|Sun Aug 15 2010 17:45:44|
eBay May Offer Outsourced Fulfillment Service to Sellers
By: Ina Steiner
eBay is surveying sellers on whether they would be interested in using a fulfillment service called eFulfillment Service. Sellers would send their inventory to eFulfillment Service,* which would store the items, and then pick, pack and ship orders as they were received. According to a seller who took the survey, benefits of using the service would include:
- improved search exposure on eBay for listings that used the fulfillment service;
Update 8/17/10: eBay responded to our inquiry and said it did survey several thousand sellers asking about their interest in a fulfillment service that could potentially be integrated with eBay.com. The survey did not link to eFulfillment Service, nor did it reference any specific vendors. "At this time, we are merely surveying sellers about the benefits of a fulfillment service and their desire to have access to one."
- no low (1 or 2) Shipping DSR ratings for those orders.
eBay is under pressure from some Wall Street analysts (including RBC Capital and Deutsche Bank) to offer fulfillment services - some analysts want eBay to actually move in the direction of inventory ownership. No doubt analysts are impressed with Amazon's success with its FBA fulfillment service; Amazon is building 13 new distribution centers this year.
But while Amazon's FBA fulfillment service offers some clear advantages to sellers, it's not without its problems, and isn't suitable for every product or category. One complaint, for example, is that Amazon.com allows buyers to return items with no questions asked.
Recently on the Amazon.com boards, a toy seller discussed the problem he faced with returned action figures that had been opened by customers, saying he was facing the prospect of losing money with FBA because he could not relist returned items that were no longer in mint condition.
This is not the first time eBay surveyed sellers about a possible fulfillment service - eBay surveyed sellers last year. The seller who took this month's survey said eBay asked about shipping carriers, shipping costs - including how much time they spent on packaging and shipping and how many workers they employed, and indicated eFullment Service would help control/handle returns and buyer issues.
Update 8/16/10: eFulfillment Service President John Lindberg said he has not been in talks with eBay, but would be delighted if eBay was interested in partnering with them. I have a request in to eBay asking if the survey linked to eFulfillment Service, as reported by a reader, and have not yet received a response.