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Different Strategies to Fast Delivery: Amazon Prime versus eBay Now

eBay and Amazon are taking different approaches to shipping and delivery, as demonstrated by recent press releases issued to attract holiday shoppers. Amazon is promoting its Prime shipping program and suggests shoppers give memberships to friends and family as a holiday gift, while eBay is promoting its same-day delivery service by making it free through Christmas Eve.

Give the Gift of Amazon Prime this Holiday
Amazon announced in a press release on Friday with the above title that customers could begin giving the gift of an Amazon Prime membership. “Millions of members already enjoy the benefits of Amazon Prime. In the US, that includes unlimited Free Two-Day Shipping on more than 15 million items, instant streaming of over 41,000 movies and TV episodes through Prime Instant Video and over 350,000 books to borrow through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. Starting today, customers can now give the gift of an Amazon Prime membership.”

Amazon is building a logistics network that will some day enable them to offer cost-effective, same-day delivery to most Americans, most likely including groceries.

eBay Now Free Delivery through Christmas Eve
eBay, on the other hand, is attempting same-day delivery by partnering with retailers. As of last month, shoppers have an option to buy an item online at eBay.com and pick it up from a local retailer such as Toys “R” Us or Best Buy.

eBay is also going outside of its marketplace through its eBay now same-day delivery service. On Monday, eBay announced it was offering consumers free delivery on all eBay Now orders through December 24th.

The eBay Now mobile app lets users in select cities order items from brick-and-mortar chain stores such as ToysRUs and Macy’s and receive them from an eBay courier to a specified location. eBay Now charges $5 per delivery (per store) with a $25 minimum order.

An eBay spokesperson told EcommerceBytes, “With six fewer shopping days this year, every minute of the holiday rush matters and eBay Now offers a convenient way for consumers to get whatever they need and love this holiday season delivered to them anywhere in about an hour. eBay Now is available in the San Francisco Bay Area, San Jose, New York and Chicago, with a launch in Dallas coming soon.”

While eBay generally works with large chain stores on its local initiatives, eBay Now is piloting a program working with several merchants in San Francisco to offer select artisanal goods. Deborah Sharkey, Vice President of Local at eBay said, “Local delivery is a priority for eBay and we will continue to partner with more retailers, both large and small, to help them connect to customers in a new way.”

Control versus Costs
While Amazon maintains control through its distribution network, it’s also a costly proposition. On the other hand, eBay relies on retail partners, and it must figure out a way to make its on-demand delivery service affordable.

Both companies are helping set consumer expectations about speed and cost of delivery.

If you sell online, how do you entice shoppers who are in a hurry to get their items but don’t want to pay for shipping?

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.