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eBay and Etsy Appeal to Late Holidays Shoppers

People aren’t finished with their holiday shopping, but as Christmas and Kwanzaa grow ever closer, they may have qualms about shopping online over concerns that they won’t get their gifts in time.

eBay and Etsy are both attempting to extend holiday shopping in various ways. While eBay relies heavily on gift cards, Etsy has some unique ways to entice procrastinating gift-givers.

eBay’s homepage features a banner that urges shoppers to “Get unique last-minute gifts on time,” with little image of a clock that says, “Get fast shipping.” It links to its holiday landing page that features ways to shop for people such as “gifts for him,” and “gifts for the home gourmet” or “the savvy techie.”

eBay is also offering up to 30% off on a variety of gift cards. Last week, it urged its marketing affiliates to send visitors to its Gift Card landing page, and listed examples of the deals they could find, including:

$100 Toys R Us gift card for $90
$50 Aeropostale gift card for $40
$50 Wine.com gift card for $40
$50 Saks Off 5th gift card for $40
$60 Spotify gift card for $50
$60 JCPenney gift card for $50
$50 Skype gift card for $35

“If your visitors are last-minute shoppers, they’ll be happy to know they can still save up to 30% on gift cards with digital delivery within a few hours,” the eBay Partner Network told its affiliate publishers. “Encourage them to visit the Gift Cards landing page to start shopping and saving now, as these deals won’t last long!”

Meanwhile Etsy’s home page features a banner that reads, “Last-minute gifts” with a link to a page featuring “Editors’ Picks – Last-minute gifts.”

Etsy features gift cards on the page – but gift cards for Etsy itself, not other retailers as eBay is doing. “Give them a gift that gets them what they’re into” links to a page where shoppers can purchase an Etsy gift card in various styles and denominations.

Etsy UK published a blog post with ideas to appeal to last minute shoppers, promoting downloadable gifts. “Still haven’t found the right gift to give this year? Don’t sweat it! We’ve got some super cute Christmas gifts that you can DOWNLOAD – yes, you heard correct.” The post features such ideas as an inspirational print or printable Christmas cards.

Etsy does another thing that eBay doesn’t: drive shoppers to local sellers. “We’ve got gifts galore (for even the most distant of family relations), from snazzy downloadables to prezzies that can be handmade (should you feel like getting in the crafty zone) and we’ve made it easy as ABC for you to find local Etsy sellers whose shipping will be super speedy.” US shoppers can find local sellers on this page.

We checked some other marketplaces as well. Bonanza promotes gift cards on its home page, but not at the top of the page as a solution for late shoppers. The link goes to this page where shoppers can purchase the cards.

Amazon’s top-of-the-page slider on its homepage features 7 slides, one of which promotes last-minute shopping, but only for its fashion store: “Amazon Fashion Free One-Day Shipping – last-minute gifts including watches, jewelry, and more.”

Amazon also messages, “4 days left to get FREE Two-Day Shipping for Christmas with Amazon Prime” in the top right corner of the page with a link to a guide to holiday ordering cutoff dates.

But Amazon has an advantage other marketplace don’t: millions of Prime shoppers who get free 2-day shipping, extending the online shopping schedule for those members.

Walmart.com is running a special today. The site usually offers free shipping on orders over $50, but today (Friday), it will eliminate the purchase minimum for free shipping. “Free shipping, no minimum – today only” a banner screams on its home page – and it offers free in-store pickup as well. However, it notes the deal may not apply to third-party sellers on the Walmart.com Marketplace.

And while marketplaces are doing everything they can to drive sales in the final days of the holiday shopping season, merchants are coping with cranky customers and delayed deliveries, and they may not wish to court last-minute shoppers. If you’re finding yourself muttering Bah, humbug, share your gripes on the EcommerceBytes Blog.

Update 12/18/15: Retail newcomer Jet.com is warning customers they may not get their orders in time for Christmas due to “nationwide shipping delays” – see the update on the EcommerceBytes Blog (link directly above).


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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). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.