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eBay Kills Local Same-Day Delivery

While Amazon is getting its inventory ever closer to its customers by building a physical distribution network, eBay is giving up on its testing of local delivery called eBay Now. But it’s not clear many buyers or sellers will miss the service, or even notice its absence.

Companies rarely admit defeat, and eBay is no exception. eBay is killing its local delivery service, but Chief Product Officer RJ Pittman buried the news in his post on the corporate blog on Monday and downplayed its importance.

eBay is consolidating its mobile apps, Pittman explained in the post titled “Simplifying the eBay Commerce Experience.” Two paragraphs from the bottom, he dropped the bombshell: “In addition, today we are retiring the eBay Now service in the U.S., including the local Brooklyn pilot program.”

Pittman explained, “While we saw encouraging results with the eBay Now service, we always intended it as a pilot, and we are now exploring delivery and pick-up/drop-off programs that are relevant to many more of our 25 million sellers, and that cover a wider variety of inventory that consumers tell us they want.”

eBay had added 80 small sellers to the eBay Now program only 7 months ago, as it announced in this December blog post. “We’ve been testing “last mile” options for more than a year,” Tom Allason, senior director of eBay’s Local initiatives, was quoted in the post – “We kicked off the program with a focus on large retailers to scale the program. Now we want to provide the same opportunities to small businesses, who are the core sellers on eBay.”

Brooklyn-based sellers we spoke to who used the service said they didn’t garner many sales through the program. One seller said there was low demand and believed eBay lost money on each delivery.

Another seller told EcommerceBytes they weren’t sure why eBay had selected them to participate in the first place since their items were not the kind of things someone would want immediately such as groceries or diapers.

Sellers used a program called Reach to manage their orders, and items were picked up from their location by courier. There were three types of eBay Now orders: Immediate, Scheduled, and In-Store Pickup. Merchants were expected to have the product ready for pickup 30 minutes after receiving the order for “Immediate Delivery” orders, or 1 hour before the delivery window shown for the customer for “Scheduled Delivery.”

Several sellers sent us the email they received from eBay today:

Dear eBay seller:
Thank you very much for your participation in eBay Local, comprising eBay Now and in-store pickup enabled through Reach, and our eBay Brooklyn pilot. We are getting in touch to let you know that after careful consideration, we have decided to discontinue this program.

As we value your business and would like to be able to continue connecting you with eBay’s 157 million active buyers, we hope you will consider continuing to sell on eBay.com with “ship to home” fulfilment. However you choose to proceed, you’ll find more details below on next steps.

Thank you again for being a valued eBay seller and participant in this innovative eBay program.
Best regards,
The eBay Local team

In December, eBay explained that eBay Local was available in five markets in the US: New York (including Brooklyn and Queens), San Francisco and parts of the Peninsula, San Jose, Dallas and Chicago. There are also eBay Local programs in the U.K., Germany and Australia.”

eBay isn’t giving up the concept entirely in the UK, explaining eBay would continue to pilot scheduled delivery in that country. The company told Cnet it would continue to explore a variety of delivery options such as in-store pickup, which it continues to offer at retailers including Best Buy and Toys “R” Us. The company also continues to pilot scheduled delivery in the UK and operate delivery networks in Australia, Germany and the UK that allows customers to collect purchased items in stores.

Google (Google Express) and Amazon (with a number of options) are among the Internet giants still offering same-day delivery services.

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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/.