Earlier this week, eBay set the ecommerce world on its end with a bold new marketing strategy. For certain businesses that meet shipping goals and targets, eBay will guarantee a three-day shipping time or refund the payment. Besides being an enticing incentive for consumers to buy items on eBay, it also dramatically change the paradigm for way ecommerce normally works, and other businesses and retailers will need to adapt with these changes.
Two years after beginning the pilot program, eBay is ready to launch its three-day guaranteed shipping to consumers this summer.
“From the summer, the site will guarantee the speedy delivery of 20 million products from certain sellers who currently meet delivery promises,” explained a tech writer for the BBC. “If items don’t arrive on time, eBay will refund shipping or give shoppers a voucher if delivery was free.”
Of course, guaranteed three-day delivery sounds great, but it’s important to not underestimate the importance of this change. The greatest shortcoming of online retailing is shipping. Whether it costs too much to ship or it would take too long to arrive, shipping related issues often cause consumers to search different sites or find an in-store location to buy the item. eBay’s new guaranteed three-day shipping may be enough to attract more consumers and gain more conversions.
Obviously, eBay can’t promise that every item ordered online will arrive within three days. Sellers on eBay can often be in another country, which make longer shipping times and more waiting for things like customs checks at the border. So eBay will be only put the three-day guarantee for sellers who meet certain requirements and shipping targets.
“There are so many great sellers on eBay delivering an incredible shipping experience where they deliver in two days, and even next day, so the ability to highlight Guaranteed Delivery will further increase customer confidence and satisfaction,” said Brett Thome, who runs VMInnovations, which sells products via eBay, in an interview with the BBC.
It’s also important to note that financially, it’s the seller that’s on the hook for the refund if their product doesn’t arrive in time. The way the plan is structured, it encourages sellers to situation their supply chain so they can offer guaranteed three-day delivery and ensure it always on time, lest they lose money.
There are several reasons why online retailers should make the effort to qualify for guaranteed three day delivery and why they should offer it to consumers despite the potential financial risks. Besides the reasons explained in the opening, eBay also plans to add a search filter where consumers can find items that will arrive the fastest. Since most customers want things as soon as possible, being at the top of that list will lead to more exposure.
And as an added benefit, if a seller is one of the few who can offer three-day guaranteed delivery for a product, they can actually charge a little more than they would have otherwise. By allowing for sorting based on shipping times, the faster shippers can charge a premium and not worry about being missed by shoppers who could mainly only sort by price in the past.
What this means for online retailers is clear. Shipping has always been one of the most important determining factors for online consumers, and eBay has just raised the bar for what online retailers should be aspiring to reach. Whether they’re on eBay or not, the three-day shipping time will soon become the standard for good shipping, since people will know they can go to eBay to find items they want and have them arrive sooner.
Retailers that are on eBay should look into the program to learn what their business needs to do to offer guaranteed three-day shipping to their customers. Businesses that had avoid listing products on eBay in the past should reconsider, since eBay may become the go-to place for fast online shopping.
In the end, business owners and marketers will have to wait and see how effective this new plan from eBay is, but the fact that improving shipping will improve sales will not go away. Business owners should take this time to modify their supply chain to ensure they meet the level of service that eBay is trying to offer.
For more recent news about online marketing, read this article on just how much shipping times affect consumer shopping preferences.