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New eBay Shipping Logistics Team Working on Lockers and Kiosks?

In the spring, eBay was recruiting for managers as it embarked on a large scale strategic project to build a next generation shipping and logistics platform that would serve sellers across eBay, Paypal and Magento. eBay has since created a new Shipping and Logistics department that works out of its Seattle office to help buyers and sellers to “transport their items from one location to another.”

Farah Ali became the new Director of eBay Marketplaces’ Shipping and Logistics in September and leads a team of software engineers “who focus on the modern implications of this complex domain” – referring to freight transport – according to a post she published this week on the eBay blog.

Prior to her new role, she revealed on her profile page that she had managed the eBay Shipping team that focused on building an integration platform for shipping carriers and courier services. The platform’s goal was to be carrier-agnostic and to enable rapid onboarding of new carriers.

eBay Shipping Initiatives 
While it’s pretty well known eBay has launched a Global Shipping Program to facilitate cross border trade and is testing a same-day delivery service in the US and UK called eBay Now, it appears eBay is also working on kiosks and lockers, something rival Amazon is better known for through its delivery lockers – and it’s not alone – see this blog post from 2011 about the package pickup trend.

Also less well known is eBay’s “in-store pickup” initiative in the U.S. that is integrated into its Marketplaces platform – “Buy it on eBay, pick up at a store near you” – (link to article), and a program in the UK that goes one step further by allowing a test group of sellers to send orders to Argos retail stores for pickup by customers. (See, “eBay Sellers Can Offer Store Pickup in UK” – link to article.

It’s not surprising ecommerce marketplaces are focused on solving shipping problems for their merchants. Fulfillment and delivery remain obstacles to online and mobile shopping, and customers are expecting faster and cheaper delivery even as shipping rates rise each year.

Ali said her team is involved with various elements of shipping, including integrating with shipping carriers and providing functions such as label generation and rate calculation. (See this recent EcommerceBytes Newsflash article, “Lawsuit Jeopardizes eBay’s Shipping Calculator.)

Helping eBay Sellers 
Also of interest to eBay sellers is Ali’s comments about delivery estimates, which the company displays in its sellers’ listing descriptions. “In cases where we don’t have direct data,” Ali wrote, “we use machine learning to identify how long it will take for an item to get delivered and how much it will cost to ship it via various shipping services.”

This is a sensitive area for sellers who wish to manage buyer expectations. This holiday shopping season, sellers reported that eBay was displaying unrealistic delivery estimates leading to complaints by buyers.

Ali also wrote, “We build experiences for our sellers that help them process their shipments easily and manage their post transaction shipping process from end to end. In a nutshell, my team and I enable all kinds of shipping services integration on eBay. We’re a newer team, so we’re really excited to learn more and share our learnings with our customers – and ultimately help improve everyone’s shipping experiences on eBay.”

You can read Ali’s full post on the eBay blog where comments are allowed.

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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/.