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eBay’s Answer to Amazon Fulfillment Centers

Ever since it acquired GSI Commerce, a platform for some of the largest brands and retailers, eBay has been in the business of helping enterprise retailers compete with online sellers and marketplaces. Last week, eBay officially announced it was expanding its Enterprise offerings to “mid-market” retailers (that’s code for companies not as big as Toys R Us, but much bigger than your average eBay seller).

This week, eBay Enterprise revealed it was helping brick-and-mortar retailers in a new way – by offering a “ship-from-store” solution that helps them make their in-store inventory available as online inventory that they can ship right from individual stores, allowing for faster delivery. “Consumers experience expedited delivery with over 80% of ship-from-store orders shipped in one day and 96% shipped in two days,” eBay stated.

eBay Enterprise said retailers can deploy the new solution to leverage their physical store inventories. “eBay Enterprise was first to market with its holistic, integrated back-end technology that provides retailers with one comprehensive inventory system delivered at an unparalleled rate,” it pronounced. That’s known as “omnichannel,” an oft-used term these days that reflects new shopper behavior: they may start off in a brick-and-mortar store, pull open their mobile device and complete shopping at home or work on their desktop computer, for example.

In its announcement on Monday, eBay wrote, “Effective omnichannel capabilities significantly boost sales, enhance the consumer experience and improve customer retention rates. With 77% of consumers expecting retailers to provide a consistent, integrated experience between their in-store and online channels, ship-from-store and in-store pickup will empower retailers to continue to compete in an omnichannel landscape and meet their customers’ evolving needs.”

Among the benefits to retailers of eBay Enterprise’s new “ship-from-store” solution is “decreased delivery costs and times for customers by routing shipments from the nearest possible physical location.” And eBay says retailers can sell their in-store inventory online rather than marking it down, helping them to maintain profit margins.

As Tobias Hartmann, head of omnichannel operations for eBay Enterprise puts it this way: “With the eBay Enterprise Ship-from-Store solution, retailers can quickly turn their physical retail locations into virtual distribution centers.”

It’s a different approach than eBay’s rival is taking – Amazon wants merchants to upload their inventory onto its marketplace and, ideally, send inventory to its distribution centers as well. The key incentive for retailers in sending inventory to Amazon is its “tens of millions” of Prime members.

eBay’s Enterprise subsidiary is also testing a way to give retail clients the ability to offer in-store pickup on the eBay Marketplace, giving shoppers the option of having an item shipped from the store or having it waiting at a local store for pickup.

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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/.