eBay continues to work on an Amazon FBA-style fulfillment program and referenced a "high-sales velocity program" in a new survey about the service.
We can track eBay's interest in offering fulfillment services as far back as 2009
, and in January of this year, it invited sellers to participate in a pilot program called Fulfillment for eBay
. The marketplace is not building out its own infrastructure the way Amazon has done, but instead, is using partners - just as it has down with its Global Shipping Program, powered by Pitney Bowes.
A reader forwarded the survey, which was focused on gauging seller interest in using the program and determining whether the fees for using such a program should be higher, lower, or the same as Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA).
In January's invitation, eBay had referenced 3-day delivery, but in the latest survey, eBay set out new expectations about delivery speed. The survey spelled out standard delivery as 1-2 days "with access to eBay's high sales velocity program (e.g., eGD or new program)."
And it asked sellers if they'd be interested in a lower priced fulfillment service with 3-day delivery speed - "the service offering would be the same except that item shipped in 3-day might not get sales velocity boost as much as item shipped in 2-day."
Amazon moving to 1-day delivery is no doubt putting pressure on eBay.
It appears eBay would use a combination of pricing and visibility to induce sellers to use the program. Potentially powerful carrots include greater visibility and seller protection (protection from Item Not Received claims, for example).
It's interesting to note that aggregating shipments might enable eBay to offer participants lower shipping rates, but sellers would still have to pay to get their inventory to the eBay program's warehouses in the first place. In January, eBay had said participants in the pilot program would be required to split their inventory into at least two locations.
One question in this month's survey outlined the program as follows:
Imagine eBay were to offer a new fulfilment service that allowed you to deploy your inventory to multiple locations around the country, being closer to the buyer. The service would include
- 1-2 days promised delivery to buyers, with access to eBay's high sales velocity program (e.g., eGD or new program)
- Storage and pick & pack in eBay fulfillment warehouse, with late end-of-day cut off (e.g., 9 pm), allowing more orders to be processed same day
- eBay handles all buyer queries related to delivery (e.g., where's my item?)
- Full protection on delivery-related issues, no penalties for missed delivery times, damaged goods or non-received items
- Option to fulfill orders from your own website or other marketplaces ('multichannel")
- Additional service offerings (e.g., returns, packaging, international fulfillment, etc.) can be offered at additional cost
It then asked, "Assuming the service is offered at a competitive price, how likely would you use the fulfillment service, even if only for part of your sales?"
eBay also asked sellers which of the following additional features - offered for an additional fee - would be most attractive to them:
- eBay managed returns (buyer returns items to eBay, and eBay restocks items into seller's inventory)
- International selling support via forward deployment (international shipping with additional help for customs, duty and tax calculation, etc.)
- Value added services (Appraisal, Re-Packaging, Imaging, etc.)
- Inbound Logistics Support (Negotiated rates to send inventory to eBay fulfillment centers)
In another question, eBay stated, "By using the new fulfillment service, you will be able to get seller protections, customer service, and access to high velocity badge for your eBay sales." Do those sound like the kind of carrots that would induce you to try it?