Ebay Adds Immediacy to Shoppers' Carts
Ebay is supplementing its auction approach to e-commerce with its plan to introduce a specialty site that allows customers to make purchases instantly at fixed prices. The site, Ebay Express, will feature an online shopping cart that will let visitors select items and pay for them all at once, paralleling the Internet shopping experience of online retailers like Amazon.com. Payments will be accepted via credit card and PayPal. It is scheduled to launch in spring 2006.
The online auctioneer currently offers a Buy It Now option that allows shoppers to skip the bidding process and make purchases. When the item is part of an auction-style listing, however, the feature is only shown on listings until an item receives its first bid, or, for a reserve price auction, when the reserve is met, according to the company. With the rollout of Ebay Express, however, all Buy It Now listings will be shown on Ebay.com, while a portion of Buy It Now and Stores Inventory Format listings also will be featured on Ebay Express. "We think Ebay Express will encourage more shopping among our existing buyers, who today may only buy on Ebay for certain purposes or types of products," the company said on its Web site. "We also think it will attract new buyers to Ebay who prefer a more conventional e-commerce shopping experience."
For those looking to sell on the site, Store and Fixed Price listings that qualify will be presented on both Ebay.com and Ebay Express. Selling criteria include that sellers maintain positive ratings of 98 percent or more and a public feedback profile.
Ebay Express will first launch stateside, followed by Canada, according to the company. Ebay will market the service on its own site and through Internet search engines, and later in the year will expand its advertising efforts to TV, radio, and print.
Ebay's strong brand equity could be a competitive threat, depending on whether it continues to sell goods from individuals, which would not be a significant threat to online retailers, or allows traditional distributors, retailers, and outlet sources to participate as sellers, says Leslie Ament, director of customer intelligence research at Aberdeen Group. "Price sensitivity for commodity products drive the majority of online consumers' purchasing decisions. All things being equal...price, brand, shipping timeframe/costs, return policy, or warranty--the Ebay brand may win out. Online retailers would do well to improve intangibles such as customer service, convenience, [and] building a strong relationship with their individual customers to increase loyalty."
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