Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sun Dec 22 2013 14:19:27

How eBay Extends the Holiday Shopping Season

By: Ina Steiner

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When you're an online-only marketplace and must rely primarily on shipping carriers to deliver your goods, the holiday shopping season ends earlier compared to retail stores, which can stay open on Christmas Eve to attract last-minute holiday shoppers. So how do you extend the shopping season? It's a good question now that there are only three shopping days left before Christmas, including today.

Amazon has its Prime membership shipping program, and today, you'll see on the top of the Amazon.com home page, "Last day to get FREE shipping for Christmas with Amazon Prime." It's also promoting free 2-day shipping on select versions of its ebook reader, the Kindle. And it is promoting Amazon gift cards: "It's Not Too Late! Holiday Gift Cards with Instant Delivery: Email, Print at Home, Facebook."

Amazon's home page is also promoting free one-day shipping on certain items - one ad is for jewelry and watches, another for "Top Gift Ideas."

But eBay doesn't have a membership shipping program or an ebook reader or other device of its own. And while it does have its own gift cards available here (they are no longer available in stores on the gift-card racks, as I reported in October), eBay isn't promoting its gift cards anywhere on its home page. Nor is it promoting the Gift Card Mall on eBay where shoppers can purchase gift cards from major retailers. A missed opportunity to help desperate, last-minute shoppers?

Etsy, on the other hand, has its gift card front-and-center on its homepage: "Give One-of-a-Kind" Send an Etsy Gift Card.  You can "Email to a friend" or "Print at home" on the Etsy Gift Card page.

eBay has tried in recent years to extend the holiday shopping season by calling attention to listings that offer quick delivery methods. In 2011, eBay introduced the eBay Fast 'N Free badge with a truck icon, and it gave sellers with good performance ratings a boost in Best Match for fixed price listings if they offered an expedited or one-day shipping service, 1-day handling, and a 14-day or longer return policy. In addition, eBay gave sellers 20% off Final Value fees for transactions that offered a free expedited shipping service with 1-day handling between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas that year.

So while eBay itself couldn't provide shoppers with free, fast shipping before Christmas, it offered its sellers incentives to do so.

Fast forward to 2013. eBay still has its Fast 'N Free badges - in a holiday-selling workshop attended by AuctionBytes Blog editor Julia Wilkinson, eBay said Fast 'N Free listings get an 11% boost in sales (see this page for details). (clarified 12/22/13)

eBay is also working on its same-day delivery program called eBay Now offered in conjunction with retail stores. eBay explains it, "eBay Now is a local shopping service from eBay. eBay Now can deliver thousands of local products from hundreds of local retailers in San Francisco and the Peninsula, San Jose, parts of New York City, Chicago, and Dallas, usually in about an hour!"

During the holiday shopping season, eBay is offering free delivery for all eBay Now orders through December 24th.

A bigger addition to eBay's strategy this year is its In-Store Pickup service, which it announced in October. Part of the program allows retailers to offer "same-day pickup" - they'll hold an in-stock item for an eBay buyer to pickup at their local store.

eBay is promoting this new service on its home page - a banner that rotates on its homepage slider reads, "Introducing FREE IN-STORE PICKUP. Click to buy it. Come and get it. Pick up from local stores for the holidays. eBay. SHOP NOW."



It initially launched with Best Buy and Toys R Us, but eBay is now promoting the in-store pickup option with Best Buy and AutoZone.

Some readers were skeptical about the service when it launched:

"As a shopper, I just don't get it. If you go directly to Best Buy or Toys R Us, can't you actually do the same thing? I just don't understand WHY anyone would do this through eBay with their wacky search engine and PayPal only. Dumb."

"You can already go to Best Buys site and order anything to pick up directly from the store immediately (or just have it sent to you). Easy peasy. Why in the world would anyone care about logging into eBay to do it?"


I cheched today - while some items were offered for less on eBay, others were offered for the same price as the retail store's website.

But to really take advantage of the program's potential to extend the holiday season as late as possible, eBay will be offering a special deal: eBay will provide a coupon for $10 off of a $50 purchase of in-store pick up items from Best Buy and AutoZone, valid only on December 23rd.

The biggest risk for eBay is the possibility its retail partners will be unable to fulfill orders, which a reader pointed out:

"Wait until Xmas when buyers reserve the "hot toy" on eBay then go to the B&M and are told its sold out..."


As sellers, what strategies do you employ to extend the holiday shopping season, on and off of marketplaces like eBay and Amazon? And how good a job are marketplaces doing to extend shopping for procrastinators?




Comments (15) | Leave Comment | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for How eBay Extends the Holiday Shopping Season   How eBay Extends the Holiday Shopping Season

This user has validated their user name. by: juliawww

Sun Dec 22 18:05:24 2013

I don't understand why eBay doesn't promote gift cards, and heavily...I think a lot of people now give gift cards; it's become socially acceptable, esp. for those inscrutable teens..;)...this is something that would help both eBay and its sellers, I would think.

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by: Bloggo This user has validated their user name.

Sun Dec 22 19:04:22 2013

''I don't understand why eBay doesn't promote gift cards, and heavily..''
eBay is too busy with all of their other idiotic ideas to do something that actually makes sense.

Perminate Link for How eBay Extends the Holiday Shopping Season   How eBay Extends the Holiday Shopping Season

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Sun Dec 22 20:25:07 2013

Common sense would say that eBay should have waited until after the holidays to pull their gift cards from retail locations.

Common sense would say that after making that massive strategic miscalculations, eBay would be advertising their gift cards in the top banner of every page, and on every eBay listing.

One look at all of the failed and ineffective changes eBay has implemented in the name of disruptive innovation, and you realize that these days, in order to receive an MBA, one must first surrender every shred of common sense before receiving their degree.

Perminate Link for How eBay Extends the Holiday Shopping Season   How eBay Extends the Holiday Shopping Season

by: NetWatch This user has validated their user name.

Sun Dec 22 22:52:06 2013

It's sad that what was once such a vital,vibrant place (ebay) for mom and pops to sell unique and interesting items has turned into a five and dime bazaar for cheap Chinese mass-produced dollar store junk.

Perminate Link for How eBay Extends the Holiday Shopping Season   How eBay Extends the Holiday Shopping Season

This user has validated their user name. by: Puck

Sun Dec 22 23:00:32 2013

"Common sense would say that eBay should have waited until after the holidays to pull their gift cards from retail locations."

That leaves eBay upper management out...

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This user has validated their user name. by: ebayisajoke
Web Site

Mon Dec 23 07:59:05 2013

Sure they go to AutoZone because AZ is probably oblivious to the scame and ridiculousness of eBay's policies and fraud. I was in Toys R US last week buying some xmass presents and asked a couple people in line if they ever use PayPal to buy anything here, they laughed and said no. In fact, one guy in line said his PayPal account was put on hold after transferring money into it. He said he will never use PayPal again.

Perminate Link for How eBay Extends the Holiday Shopping Season   How eBay Extends the Holiday Shopping Season

by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 23 09:47:38 2013

Makes no sense why someone would go to ebay, make a purchase, then drive to the store to pick it up???
The $10.00 credit for $50.00 purchase will break someone. Is this the deal they had to make to get them on the ebay site?
Couple of days ago, on the local news-talked about gift cards and what a huge money maker they were for the retail stores. Billions are      
are made for the stores as the cards are not used or just partially used.  So why did ebay pull them???? Just shows how bad they want to destroy a company.

Perminate Link for How eBay Extends the Holiday Shopping Season   How eBay Extends the Holiday Shopping Season

by: Mr. Me This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 23 10:25:06 2013

eBay Extends the Holiday Shopping Season........Greed takes no holiday!

Perminate Link for How eBay Extends the Holiday Shopping Season   How eBay Extends the Holiday Shopping Season

This user has validated their user name. by: Puck

Mon Dec 23 10:52:27 2013

"eBay Extends the Holiday Shopping Season........Greed takes no holiday!"

Like Death...

Perminate Link for How eBay Extends the Holiday Shopping Season   How eBay Extends the Holiday Shopping Season

This user has validated their user name. by: Tula

Mon Dec 23 14:33:24 2013

It's not like Ebay doesn't already have a track record of taking something that works and "improving" it beyond all recognition until it fails. Sometimes I think they want to fail on purpose so they have a reason to come up with more ridiculous "disruptive innovations". Makes me wonder who's making money all all these initiatives because there doesn't seem to be a clear reason for a lot of them.

Perminate Link for How eBay Extends the Holiday Shopping Season   How eBay Extends the Holiday Shopping Season

This user has validated their user name. by: Captain Nemo

Mon Dec 23 19:59:08 2013

For the last minute shopper, ebay is a non-starter. Buyers know that it's completely hit an miss on delivery times, even if the seller does ship quickly.

Amazon has done great this year, especially pushing the prime membership. I used my third trial prime this year and loved it so much I almost went for it. Amazingly effective business strategy.

I might hate how amazon is killing small online retail sellers, but at least they are doing their business right. Amazon is the perfect model of modern online retail.

Perminate Link for How eBay Extends the Holiday Shopping Season   How eBay Extends the Holiday Shopping Season

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Mon Dec 23 20:45:59 2013

I've written here in numerous occasions though not lately that one of ebay's principal institutional problems (besides its endemic dishonesty) is that it has a bureaucratic structure with far too many inexperienced 30 something managers making decisions about subjects they actually know little about based on consultant findings who also know little about the ebay marketplace dynamics.

These know-it-all fresh young MBAs who've never sold a damn thing hire equally inexperienced and uninspired employees who are then allowed to play games and tweets on the mobile, mobile, mobile, during meetings while munching on bagels we paid for.

In this paternalistic culture of testosterone and greed induced arrogance, senior managers HATE small, non big box sellers and their extermination of small American sellers continues unabated.

Every extermination, every purge, every business ruining policy they devise brings gales of triumphant laughter from the mouths of these sociopaths,

They have an experienced senior manager piranha in charge of 'Buyer Protection' and a very junior manager bunny rabbit in charge of 'Seller Protection.'

Too many consultants meddling in areas they know next to nothing about. Too many young, inexperienced MBAs making bad decisions. Too much mindless automation.

Ebay woulld function a lot more efficiently and fairly if it would terminate at least 50% of its middle management and flunkies and ALL of C level management accountable for the monumental cluster they made of ebay.

Perminate Link for How eBay Extends the Holiday Shopping Season   How eBay Extends the Holiday Shopping Season

by: Ron This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 24 15:10:29 2013

I agree with Ming, it's a mess.

eBay really has little to no control to provide service, as they don't sell anything themselves.  All that they can do is threaten small sellers and institute meaningless DSRs in an endeavour to scare sellers into providing service over and beyond their Big Box sellers, for whom they provide cover through sweetheart deals.  

It appears that they are chasing any revenue producing avenue by promoting services that they don't really provide themselves.

Perminate Link for How eBay Extends the Holiday Shopping Season   How eBay Extends the Holiday Shopping Season

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Tue Dec 24 15:28:40 2013

Agree with Ric about how eBay should have banners advertising gift cards. QVC has a big ad on their home page that you can design and send a gift card by e-mail. That sounds like a great idea for last-minute shoppers.

Perminate Link for How eBay Extends the Holiday Shopping Season   How eBay Extends the Holiday Shopping Season

by: Mr. Me This user has validated their user name.

Thu Dec 26 12:01:26 2013

Gift cards are right up eBays alley ........ a total scam .... 10-15% don't get used , and another 25-30% don't get 100% redeemed, with "change" going to issuer... This adds up to $millions every year, why not just give cash and let recipient decide where / when to spend it?



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