Express: eBay for the Rest of Us

Rob Hof

It got nearly buried in earnings reports, but eBay announced an interesting new service that will debut in spring: eBay Express. As eBay tells it:

With eBay Express buyers will: * Get it new. Shop our vast inventory of brand new, brand name, and hard-to-find products. * Get it now. Everything on eBay Express is offered at a fixed price by experienced, motivated eBay merchants. Get what you want now— no bidding, no waiting. * Fill a shopping cart. Buy from as many eBay Express merchants as you want. Pay for everything—including shipping— in a single, secure payment using PayPal or your credit card. * Buy with confidence. Every transaction is safe, secure, and fully covered by eBay Express Purchase Protection.

In other words, it's an acknowledgment that eBay's just not reaching a significant swath of online buyers who don't want to deal with buying at auctions from individuals whose reputation is far from certain. Its success will depend almost entirely on how well it's executed, naturally--and I think it may require marketing that's fairly distinct from eBay, whose brand can't (and shouldn't) shake the wide-open, flea-market nature of the core marketplace. But it seems like a pretty good way to attract the sizable number of people I know who don't even think of shopping at eBay for anything beyond collectibles.

Update: The estimable Scot Wingo of Channel Advisor, which helps merchants sell online, has a more detailed analysis. He sounds pretty high on it.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.