EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 1267 - April 27, 2006     3 of 5

A Shopper's First Impressions of eBay Express

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Leave it to eBay to make a simple online shopping experience more complex. From the creators who brought us the "World's Online Marketplace," we now have the long-awaited sequel, eBay Express (http://www.ebayexpress.com).

To test eBay's new fixed-price marketplace, I set out to fulfill a list of eight items, comprised of DVDs, CDs and books. Since I had a healthy balance in my PayPal account, I decided that this was a great time to try out the new site, not have to put any money on my credit card, and see if eBay Express (eBeX) was an Amazon contender or pretender.

Overall, the site navigation was clear and functional. I liked how the range of prices was displayed for my item search, ala Gbase. I could sort by relevance, and price - Low to High, and High to Low (why would anyone do that?). It was simple to add and remove items from the shopping cart. In fact, I had more difficulty finding the button to edit my cart on Amazon than I did on eBeX. I was pleasantly surprised at some of the prices being offered on eBex. By the time I fulfilled my list, my total was a bit over $105.

Out of curiosity, I put the same list of items into Amazon, and do an unscientific price comparison. My total on Amazon came to $121 and change. I decided to make my purchases on eBex.

Unfortunately, that's when the Express slightly derailed for me. On closer inspection, I noticed that the $105 total was BEFORE shipping, so I had to click the Checkout button to see my actual total. Suddenly, my bargain shopping spree had ballooned to over $137. Amazon's free shipping on orders over $25 was a huge difference.

To be fair, some of the eBeX sellers offered only more expensive USPS Priority Mail shipping, which would get my items here faster - but I was on a quest for best price, not speedy delivery.

Something else I wasn't able to see until I entered eBeX checkout was the error message at the top of the page that said, "We're sorry, but we currently cannot process orders from more than 5 different sellers. Please remove some items and try again." Funny, I thought that was what eBeX was "expressly" designed for - a multiple-seller shopping cart.

As long as I was up to my knees in it, I figured that I may as well waste some more time. I ran down my shopping list on both Amazon and eBex to see which site had the better bargains - item for item. By the time I was finished, I had purchased 4 of my items on eBeX and 4 on Amazon. You could call it a wash, or you might say that eBay sellers lost about $70 of my business. But I had gotten what I came for - I kept my total at $120 and had gotten an article out of the experience.

There was one little surprise at the end, however. Although eBeX recognized my eBay User ID through eBay's cookies, I didn't notice until afterward that it had attached an old PayPal account of mine that hadn't been used in years, with a different email address than my eBay ID, that had a balance of about $1.23, not the account that had enough money to pay for my purchases.

I quickly accessed my PayPal account, and discovered that eBeX had, indeed, taken the payment from the correct account - the one with money. Nothing like a stress-free shopping experience.

Receipts for my purchases came in a timely fashion from both eBeX and Amazon, and now all I have to do is worry about receiving my items. I'm sure I will - or else I'll have to write a follow-up.


About the author:

David Steiner is President of Steiner Associates LLC, publisher of EcommerceBytes.com and the EveryPlaceISell.com merchant directory. David, a former television producer, handles business development and advertising for EcommerceBytes. You can reach him at dsteiner@ecommercebytes.com


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