Wednesday, January 28, 2009

eBay - Can We Ship Your Product Too?

As Ina Steiner points out in yesterday's blog post; eBay has been surveying sellers to measure their' interest in a fulfillment service -- presumably run by eBay. I guess they are considering something similar to Amazon's FBA program.

On a basic level this is not a terrible idea. Small to Medium sized sellers are looking for alternatives to storing and shipping themselves. The problem I see with this, is that eBay is involved in the idea and they do not have a very good track record on these types of initiatives. 

I'm not sure how they would be able to compete with a world class fulfillment operation like Amazon. With Amazon's FBA, you get customer service, gift wrapping services, expedited services access to Prime customers, etc. and all Amazon has to do to compete is bring down the cost of their Basic Fulfillment service. If that happened, eBay's service would have a hard time getting off the ground. I can't think of any reason sellers would choose eBay's system over Amazon's FBA unless of course eBay had a program like Super Saver shipping, Prime or subsidized free shipping. Just not sure eBay could come up with enough reasons for users to take part.

If this were to actually come about, it would most likely mean that eBay would buy an existing fulfillment business -- they are not  very good at creating their own stuff. I'm sure there are a number of companies out their that would fit eBay's needs at least structurally.

My guess is that eBay wants to create their own version of Prime and the only way that makes sense is if they can control the costs of fulfillment.

It will be interesting to watch. Either way online merchants can use Amazon FBA or maybe the new eBay Fulfillment to ship products sold on the website -- isn't this a great business. :)

Just my 15%


Cliff Aliperti said...

Well, shipping on eBay FBA has to be free, right, that's what customers want, no?

I don't see how it could work when their current fee structure is already similar to what I pay Amazon--they're not going to do it for free, are they?

I think the only way it's worth a try is if they concentrate on the non-Media categories, but I don't think this idea would go anywhere with collectibles--I need control on how my items are shipped, I don't trust an employee to pack them, nevermind an eBay warehouse employee that I'd have zero control over.

They'd be better off concentrating on another, or how about this, a new, idea, rather than just co-opting one which is successful for Amazon.

Thanks, Cliff

Anonymous said...

Ebay is all about making money. They won't provide a good service and they never take responsibility or any blame for problems they create. I just wish they'd go into a black hole.

ms.pat said...

I see more disaster waiting to happen. Ebay is like a kid in a candy store...they want everything Amazon has but don't know exactly how it works or whats involved - they just know it looks good on paper. Sad fact is they do another of they phoney polls and say sellers overwhelmingly wanted this and then Donahoe will come out and again say "sellers spoke, we listned" then the carnage will begin!! I'm simply more and more amazed at how bad management is and how far this company will fall before its over.

permacrisis said...

I gotta tell ya, LOVE watching ebay BLOW their money on harebrained schemes as they flail about in the aftermath of "our" divorce. You know the one I mean- the smalll seller rout codenamed 'Topbuyer'.

The only Topbuyer now is ebay, desperately out shopping for a new head to stitch onto that same old tired body.

It's like watching an estranged ex-wife eat comfort food, get fat, remodel the kitchen and then lose the house anyway... All because she just wouldn't listen to you in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Remember "you won't recognize us (eBay) in a year"

Yeah, they are trying to turn into Amazon.

eBay is like a famous person who undergoes plastic surgery to become something else and goes too far and ends up looking like a cat or having their nose fall off.

Never realizing that what they had was already special.

And ebay will be right....we won't recognize the once great company after it falls.

nadine said...

Sure fufilment services by eBay are not a bad idea "on a basic level." None of eBay's ideas -- improving security, increasing fixed price, Best Match, etc - have been bad on a basic level.

The problem is that they always screw up the implementation, big time. eBay Express was a good idea at a basic level too, and what a dog's breakfast they made of that one!

So now they think people will trust them to manage fulfilment services? Ha, what a joke. Are they so clueless about their own market position to think they can match their service track record head-to-head with Amazon's?

On second thought, scratch that question. Their behavior for the last year proves that they are so clueless. And they're not one trial learners for figuring out their mistakes, either.

Judy said...

The internet is all about innovation and entrepreneurial skills. If all eBay can do is copy existing ideas, they deserve to fail.

Surely no seller in their right mind would consider using this service. Their feedback and DSRs would really suffer.

Sharon said...

I received and completed that fulfillment survey – Scary. What makes ebay think they could successfully operate a fulfillment operation. A seller key component like Ebay’s shipping calculator has not worked correctly since May 1907. I am hard pressed to think of any piece of ebay software that operates bug free.

Recently ebay entered the world of keeping seller information secret from a seller such as DSR hard data and Best Match rules. I guess that would be one way to cover for inept programs or programming. Of course I cant know one way or another because they are ebay secrets. Wonder what part of a fulfillment system might be kept secret from a seller.

I also hate to think what kind of massive changes like they make to their site ebay might make to a fulfillment system after it is up and running and they have a seller’s merchandise. Things like fee increases, giving bigger sellers top priority and the rest get processing as time is available – Scary thoughts.