|Mon Mar 30 2009 13:47:50|
eBay Bucks Loyalty Program Launches in Beta
By: Ina Steiner
eBay is rolling out a loyalty program called eBay Bucks, which it had tested last year with tens of thousands of users in a 3-month pilot program. Not everyone will be invited into the new program right away - during the beta, eBay Bucks will only be available to randomly selected eBay customers who receive an invitation via email and in their My Messages inbox in "My eBay."
Participants in the program will earn 2% in eBay Bucks on all qualifying purchases. After the end of every calendar quarter, participants will receive an eBay Bucks certificate and will have 30 days to spend it on eBay. The eligible period for earning during the beta is April 1 through June 30. Beta participants will receive their first eBay Bucks certificate on or about July 9.
The Terms & Conditions are spelled out online. Excluded are sales tax, shipping charges, discounts, partial refunds, free items, items that fail to comply with applicable eBay terms and conditions, past purchases, and non-shipped, undeliverable or returned items. Certain categories are also excluded. A tutorial is posted online.
Users in last year's pilot program had complained of problems redeeming the "eBay Bucks," which could only be used on a single transaction. For example, a shopper who used a $20 eBay Bucks credit on a $10 item had not been able to apply the remaining $10 to another transaction.
The new program allows users to apply the Bucks towards multiple merchants and multiple transactions. The program auto-applies the Bucks credits towards all eligible transactions, leaving it to buyers to turn it off if they don't wish to redeem the Bucks on a particular transaction.
Users who are opted in to the new program will see eBay Bucks promotional material on Item pages as they shop, and the global eBay header will display how many Bucks they have already earned. This makes the program more powerful, as it reminds shoppers about the rewards program. Shoppers will be able to view details about the program in their account information and will see a list of qualifying purchases they have made.
eBay said it would continue to run its coupon program, believing the two programs are complementary. PayPal is also considering a loyalty program of its own.
eBay said it would listen carefully to customer reaction during the beta phase "to inform plans for extending the program to more customers." The beta program will launch on April 1, 2009.