EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 1401 - November 01, 2006     1 of 4

eBay Express Progress Report: Still at the Station?

By Brad and Debra Schepp

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We admit it. Back in January we jumped aboard the newly announced eBay Express (EE) train along with many of eBay's top sellers, convinced that eBay was really on to something. EE would fill the gap in eBay's business expertly, we reasoned, in that it would provide the marketplace exactly what was missing from the eBay shopping experience. EE would provide a place to buy new items, right away, from trusted eBay sellers. Buyers would be able to buy from multiple sellers, loading up their purchases into a shopping cart, just as they could do on many other ecommerce sites.

It seemed a cinch that EE would bring new users to eBay - those perhaps who were shopping on sites like and who were used to a more "conventional" ecommerce shopping experience. In the words of one PowerSeller, eBay Express would provide what we have been waiting for - it was to be the most important change since PayPal.

That was in January. Now that it's October and eBay Express has been up and running for a few months, including through the important back-to-school season, what's the verdict so far? A boon or a bust? For sellers, has eBay Express lived up to its hype?

In a word, no. Our interviews with sellers as well as a review of comments posted on eBay's EE board indicate that sellers are disappointed, very disappointed in the number of sales they can attribute to EE so far. Adam Hersh of adamhershauctions told us he's only getting about three EE sales a week, even though he has 60,000 live eBay listings, and sells thousands of items a week through several sites. PowerSeller Andy Mowery of debnroo, one of EE's most enthusiastic backers in January, now feels it's "dead in the water." He says his EE numbers are so low that "they are not even worth our attention in attempting to make adjustments that might influence more sales."

Others may use different words but their impressions are similar. "We've certainly not seen the results we and other sellers anticipated, with sales and traffic generation under 1% of overall eBay activity," said David Yaskulka the marketing chair of The Professional eBay Sellers Alliance (PeSA), and another early proponent of EE.

And it's not just the big guys who are disappointed. Stephanie Inge of stephintexas, who heads the Dallas eBay Sellers group, which with 270 seller members is one of eBay's largest such groups, says EE frequently comes up at their meetings. The consensus? "None of us have sold more than a couple of items," she told us.

Sellers complain not only about the end results but about how difficult it is to decipher just which of their eBay sales are from eBay Express. There's just no easy way to do it, they say. They also feel that eBay's not effectively marketing EE; that the message is muddy. For example, the TV commercials exclaim "eBay Express is the new place to find new items that you can buy right away. EBay Express - where you'll always find it new." Yet collectibles are a category are on the site, so certainly not everything there is new. Finally, some feel that the entry bar for sellers is set too low, at a minimum feedback level of 98% positive and 100 ratings.

Now let's take a step back. To be fair, while EE was announced at the beginning of the year, it was only officially launched at eBay Live in June. Before then it was in "preview" stage. Some would say that the marketing push only began in earnest when eBay launched the TV marketing campaign this September.

So there's every reason to feel we're still very early in the game. Sales may well pick up. Maybe the marketing message is muddy but that can be honed. Except for the presence of older items, the buying experience is probably close to what it was touted to be. You can much more easily zero in on what you want with EE. Buyers don't have to wade through a lot of extraneous listings to find and then buy what they're looking for.

We believe the sellers we spoke to want eBay Express to succeed. David Yaskulka, who is also president of eBay seller harrismichaeljewelry, even offered some suggestions for how eBay could improve EE:

  • Differentiate Express from eBay. "Buy new" and "buy now" are easily found on eBay, leaving no reason to shop Express. Differentiate with buyer safety (taking note of how supermarkets sell safer organic food without condemning conventional food). Higher seller feedback and money-back guarantees should be required of participating sellers.
  • Differentiate Express from the rest of eCommerce by leveraging eBay Giving Works charitable listings. This "people are good," "community-focused," "small business making a difference," element of eBay cannot be found elsewhere in eCommerce. eBay should take advantage of it by marketing its Express-eligible eBay Giving Works listings, especially this time of the year.

In our next article, the eBay employees behind EE bring AuctionBytes readers up to date on where eBay Express stands from the company's viewpoint, and the strategy for the next few months out.
Brad and Debra Schepp have written about cutting-edge technologies for more than 20 years. Their most recent book is the just-published eBay PowerSeller Million Dollar Ideas: Innovative Strategies to Make Your eBay Sales Soar, published by McGraw-Hill and available through retailers such as Amazon. Visit their website at

About the author:

Brad and Debra Schepp have written about cutting-edge technologies for more than 20 years. Their most recent book is eBay PowerSeller Million Dollar Ideas: Innovative Strategies to Make Your eBay Sales Soar, published by McGraw-Hill. The 2nd edition of eBay PowerSeller Secrets will be published November 27, and be available through retailers such as Amazon. Visit Brad and Deb's website at

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