|Tue June 25 2013 19:54:12|
eBay to Divert Sales to Big Box Retailers?
By: Brian Cohen
In what's sure to be a controversial move if implemented, the United Stated Patent and Trademark Office just published eBay patent application 20130159144, "System and Method for Providing Alternative Fulfillment for a Buyer's Unfulfillable Order."
In a nutshell, eBay's system would detect when an item is delayed or lost in transit, would cancel the order, and would offer the buyer the same item from another seller.
The patent appears to give buyers a choice between your typical eBay seller and a Big Box retailer, however, it seems likely that eBay could push buyers towards Big Box retailers. ("Why wait for another eBay seller to ship when you can have it *today*?)
The background of eBay's patent application describes problem orders with shipping exceptions:
"Websites provide a number of publishing, listing, and price-setting mechanisms whereby a publisher (e.g., a seller) may list or publish information concerning items for sale. Once a buyer places an order for an item, the seller fulfills the order by shipping the item to the buyer. However, delays in the shipment of the item can occur and can result in the buyer's frustration. In another scenario, the shipment may get lost. As a result, the buyer reorders the item."
eBay further details the new fulfillment software:
"...The order fulfillment issue detection module detects a fulfillment delay of an item in an order placed in an online marketplace. The alternative fulfillment qualification module determines whether the fulfillment delay qualifies for an alternative fulfillment order. The replacement matching module determines a replacement item for the item. The replacement item order module cancels the order and replaces the order with the alternative fulfillment order for the replacement item..."
The filing includes images (a.k.a. "Block Diagrams") that shows a buyer receiving a shipping delay notice pushed out to their mobile phone. One of the next images illustrates how the buyer can choose between another seller or pick up the item from a local retailer.
A subsequent image shows the buyer replacing their initial order from fictional eBay Seller "MrAwesomeo" with 6728 feedback with big box retailer Macy's. A QR code receipt is then provided to the buyer to bring with them to Macy's.
This filing should come to no surprise to EcommerceBytes readers who have been following eBay's emerging relationship with big box retailers such as December 2010's "eBay Homepage Drives Holiday Shoppers to Local Retailers" (link), December 2011's "eBay Favors Big-Box Retailers in Holiday Promotions" (link), and December 2012's "eBay Navigates Big Box Retail Territory with Mobile" (link).
Using history as a guide, December 2013 may turn into a humdinger (humbugger?) of a month for eBay sellers! Do you have any concerns with eBay canceling lost or delayed orders, or would this help protect your feedback/DSRs? Providing your comments below!
P.S. Speaking of Christmas, here is a possible stocking stuffer for you... eBay's own "Computing Device for Custom Golf Club Fitting."
About the Author
Brian Cohen has been an active member of the eBay community since May 1998. He currently trades under the member name Bidofthis.com. His first AuctionBytes article was published in May 2002. Brian can be contacted through his website at BidofThis.com where he always has a "little Bid of This and little Bid of That."