Would you use Fulfillment by eBay?

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eBay are surveying North American users to gauge interest in a fulfillment service. A seller would ship their inventory to a third party who would then pick and pack orders on their behalf.

eBay is exploring the potential idea of offering fulfillment services to its sellers. This service will allow sellers to send all or part of their eBay inventory directly to fulfillment centers associated with eBay where their products will be organized, stored, packaged and shipped directly to the buyer upon sale.

The main benefits of the service are:
– Hassle free: sellers can focus on sourcing/merchandising/marketing rather than order operations
– Potential cost saving: processing/storage costs as well as shipping charges can be cheaper, because this solution consolidates sellers’ items into one
– Improved service quality: faster shipping time and more consistent operational components (such as product descriptions), resulting in higher buyer satisfaction and DSR.

Amazon of course already have Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) so it would be interesting to see how eBay’s service (FBE?) stacked up against it. In fact users of FBA in the US can already have their products to fulfill non-Amazon orders so potentially could already be using the service to satisfy eBay orders.

Fulfillment services are best suited for multiple quantity identical items that are already boxed or bagged preferably with bar codes. It’s not so suitable for individual items or large, heavy or awkwardly shaped products that require specialist packaging – cost will be considerably more.

The big question is how many sellers would choose to put a third party in control of their feedback? Sure a fulfillment center should be able to ship promptly (although I’d argue no quicker than I do myself), but who takes the blame for mis-picks, item not received, broken in transit and returns? No doubt a contract will cover the legalities, but that’ll be small comfort for a seller who receives negative feedback or 1-star DSRs.

(I’m also curious as to how the service can improve product descriptions…. will the fulfillment center be listing the items as well?)

A fulfillment service sounds like a utopian dream. Sure for most sellers the picking, packing and despatch is the most arduous part of an eBay operation, but it’s also the part where quality control can be enforced. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve substituted a product because it wasn’t in A1 condition. A damaged box, a scratched item – would the fulfillment center show the same care and attention to detail as you?

What about branded packaging, enclosing flyers, business cards and website discounts? The parcel is probably the best opportunity you have to market to a buyer and turn them into a regular customer. You are likely to lose this impact with a fulfillment service.

Would you pay to have your shipping and packing outsourced? Would it mean laying off staff or closing a warehouse? Perhaps most important of all would you entrust your feedback to a minimum wage warehouse picker/packer who’s only interest is how many more hours there are before they can go home?

35 Responses

  1. I find it quite amazing that ebay would even be considering this

    Ebay used to be an innovative company now it seems to be happy just to copy others

    Trust ebay with my stock?

    Not a hope in hell, I would rather gouge my eyes out with a rusty teaspoon!

  2. “Would you pay to have your shipping and packing outsourced? Would it mean laying off staff or closing a warehouse? Perhaps most important of all would you entrust your feedback to a minimum wage warehouse picker/packer who’s only interest is how many more hours there are before they can go home?”

    I did the exact same thing last Feb, best move I have ever made but slightly different as I have had a 5 year+ relationship with them, we work as a team.

    Would I trust eBay to do it? would I hell. They make little or no investment in site improvements,staff development,training, software…can you imagine what an eBay warehouse would look like!! leaky roof, broken heating, bust vending machines…i’d run a mile. 😆

    eBay should stick at what they are good at.

    Amazon have developed and invested in there services over the years, eBay should take note of this.

  3. In my opinion, this sounds like one of those projects that would be announced with great enthusiasm and then left to slowly decline…

  4. amazon have many years experience in extremely large scale picking & packing.
    ebay seem to get by with a wish and a prayer. ebay fulfilment would break us all.

    it send shudders down my back just thinking about it. anybody who has spoken to ebay by telephone has a pretty good idea of the organisation.

  5. Presumably eBay would themselves be outsourcing this to some fulfillment company. That’s too long a string of responsibility for me – if I want to use a fulfillment company, it’ll be one I hire, on my terms, with a direct contract, and without eBay taking their own cut.

  6. With DSRs for postage and packing being so important
    there is no way I would trust ebay or a ebay third party

  7. You will have more chance of KNITTING FOG than me letting Ebay organise this for me.

    Ebay should concentrate on their side of the deal and stop trying to meddle with our side

    AMAZING !!!

    Where on earth do they get these people from who thinks up all of this crap ??

  8. Since part of my DSR stars are already in the hands of other companies (Royal Mail etc), there is no way I’m likely to increase the risk. I’m pretty sure that my items wouldn’t fit the criteria anyway, but even if they did – I don’t think anyone can improve on my despatch times which can be within an hour of payment 🙂

    Why don’t they spend the money researching ways to reduce the scammers and improve the image of the site?

  9. I’m glad I’m not the only one that doesn’t trust eBay in this endeavor. It sounds great on paper until you consider who is running it.

    Pure speculation but considering what PayPal does with people’s funds (freezing and returning 180+ days later, holding 5%, etc) I’m wondering if they’d have some provisions in their contract stating they could seize your inventory like in instances of “suspected” counterfeits, unusual trading behavior, etc. I also wouldn’t want to ship them a lot of branded, genuine items just to have them VeRO’d off the site.

  10. I totally support fulfillment by eBay. I would strongly urge all of my competitors to use FBE in every way possible. And, if I was so lucky and they did — then I would own my niche in three months at the outside.


  11. This would make those those scams where the items ship from the eBay warehouse and the transaction is guaranteed for thousands of dollars a bit more realistic. People still fall for them today, but only those that aren’t familiar with what eBay really does. Once eBay stops being a just a venue and ships the actual items that scam won’t be based on such a far fetched premise.

  12. I would think that I’m unlikely to be part of their intended target audience, as an occasional seller of superfluous items I keep finding around the house or the garage.

    What this initiative seems to be, however, is yet another initiative that seems to be geared towards making ebay more attractive to volume sellers of cheap trinkets. I guess concentrating on those sellers that are currently responsible for the majority of sales (and thus ebay income) makes some business sense but to me this seems to be yet another step down the slippery slope of becoming a web outlet mall or a bad copy of Amazon.

  13. Another thought – how does this work with item location rules? And what happens with returns/refunds/exchanges? Particularly international ones?

  14. #14 Guess you give the location as where the product is, and the fulfillment center would (hopefully in a timely fashion) let you know when a return was received back so that you could refund.

  15. I think 12[timo] has it right

    this is not intended for the one man band or medium seller
    its for the walmarts and tescos

  16. #15 which raises the question- why is ebay sticking its nose in when anyone that actually needs one ie tesco and walmart, already has one?

  17. #16 It’s not a simple process either. Royal Mail (who lets face it know a thing or two about delivering parcels) reckon it’ll take up to three months to get a typical seller live on the Royal Mail Logistics solution.

    Then there’s the downside that I’m betting whichever company eBay contract with won’t offer a full choice of carriers for the delivery phase, you’ll be tied into one particular carrier (who may or may not be your first choice).

  18. When confidence in it’s core product is generally declining (financial commentators and it’s own buyers & sellers), it doesn’t seem like a great time for ebay to venture into such a logistically challenging venture.

    More growing pains from a company that hasn’t quite worked out where it’s going and why?

    Understand it’s only a survey, but it’s pretty much guaranteed to rankle with existing sellers and buyers who would like to see eBay put greater transparency, resources and competence into their existing operations.


  19. Intresting reading!

    I had been putting some thought into possibly using Amazon for our fulfillment but then thought what happens if they do make a mistake, which happens if your a big or small company and we get a negative and that negative is the one that takes us over the 1% threshold and gets us booted?

    Ok sounds silly and maybe I am being over the top, but then these things do happen and it seems odd to give something like this to another company.

    Lets face it it’s bad enough having to put your trust into a carrier like Royal Mail or another courier service to deliver the stock, which they often mess up but your still to blame!

    Maybe its just someone high up in ebay a bit bored and fancies a try at something new?

  20. Oh hell,
    Bad idea, massive huge, bad idea.
    The one thing I still have control over is my presentation and the DC4U brand. I will not relinquish that, full stop.

    My other issue is Royal Mail, bless ’em they have upped their signed for rate on my recorded parcels consistently over the last 18 months for which I am eternally grateful. But as I despatch and I have a tracking number, I know what was sent, when and how, and what packaging, using a fulfillment centre, and then claiming for loss, via Royal Mail is going to be a major headache.

    Its form centric at the moment as it is, three months to get up to speed with logistics,

    3 months ago Woolies was still trading….

    No, no no no no eBay, please, no….
    Suz x

  21. I wonder if Ebay will start selling books next…

    It is time, in my opinion, that they returned to concentrating on being what they are good at.

    A venue…

    And stop trying to be Amazon/Shopping.com/Googlebay…

    This is how it appears 🙂


  22. Had to check the date to make sure it,s not April Fools Day when i read this, someone,s pulling my pisser if they think i would trust anyone else with handling and packaging my stuff.

    Just for the record i think Royal Mail is a great service, i send on average 140 packages a week and have few problems.9 times out of 10 if somethings not delivered it,s at the buyers local sorting office awaiting collection or redelivery.

  23. eBay do need to review their current offering. However I don’t believe this is the answer at this time.

    Increasing the number of shop categories that an item can be listed in would be a start… 🙂

  24. All I can add is that even thinking of such a scheme demonstrates a crisis of management within eBay.

    On the otherhand … who’s up for shipping empty boxes to the fulfillment centre then making claims against eBay for loss of inventory 😉

  25. My stuff isn’t really suited to a fulfilment service, as my inventory is wide but shallow as they say (I think!), partly why I haven’t taken up Amazon’s offers for their FBA service. That and the fact that I’m a control freak…

    There’s just no way though that I would ever trust eBay sufficiently to carry out anything as important as this on my behalf.

  26. I don’t understand. 🙄
    We already get punished for the cost of shipping, and delivery time, right?

    I don’t mean Seller handling charges nor the time a Seller takes to drop the parcel at the Post Office.

    I mean, we are getting thumped because the Postage Rates are high, and the Postal Service is slow.

    Now add the extra time and cost this Fulfillment Service will involve.

    The other situation is that in many cases a Buyer is in the same city, but wants the item mailed. This usually takes one day, or two at the most, agreed?

    Now imagine me having to package this item so the Fulfillment Service doesn’t damage it, and shipping it to them.
    Then my item gets on a conveyor belt, and sits in line to be packaged.
    Then it will get labelled, hopefully correctly, and delivered to whatever carrier.
    Hopefully this carrier delivers it in one piece and relatively fast.

    So now again I get thumped for slow shipping, because instead of one day, the parcel took four days to arrive to the Buyer.
    Plus, am I supposed to absorb the extra cost of this whole procedure?

  27. # 25
    It is perhaps true there is a Management crisis.

    Given their growth and profit expectations, like with any ‘piramid scheme’ there has to be a constant influx of new members with cash to spend.
    In my opinion eBay has finally realized the piramid is crumbling.

    I suspect the proverbial penny had finally dropped.
    Unable to get more members, they started to raise fees, charge for extras, host ouside advertisements, and got heavy on the ‘sponsored links’, which are most annoying, and may take away from Sellers.

    That not being sufficient, the PayPal issue was sprung.
    Of course Buyer Safety is all important, but it’s only a veneer for their true intentions.
    They want more cash. If they can’t get it by ‘crook’ they’ll get by ‘hook’.
    So they now want ‘paperless payments’.
    Some big Sellers have their own system to accept Credit Card payments, but how many of us small and occasional Sellers can afford a service like that?
    I don’t know the ratio, but I suspect small and occasional Sellers are a great majority on eBay. As such we are already paying nearly 20% off the top.
    How much more can they squeeze out of us?

    Now, as the latest move to grab extra cash … Fulfillment Service to the rescue!

  28. Thank you BlogMum! 😀

    Right you are! Under such circumstances there wouldn’t be any point.
    But even as you describe it, I’m at odds to see any benefit … other than for ‘them’.
    ‘They’ are a business and ‘they’ have to pay expenses and show a profit, right?

    I’m just trying to wrap my mind around this Fulfillment Service concept as it could apply to large, bulky and heavy items. Fragile ones as well.
    I really hope if it’s ever implemented, it will remain as an option only.

    A good percentage of the items I’m disposing of, are not perfectly cubic, and many such items are heavier than 4 kg, and I make the boxes myself.
    (BTW, never had a ‘poor packaging’ complaint. Quite the contrary! 😀 )

    I don’t buy boxes for two reasons:
    – First, the available standard sizes are usually either just too small, or exceedingly too large.
    – Second and most important, their cost is prohibitive.

    I doubt this Service would give me the benefit of allowing me to supply my own custom made boxes that fit my items.

    Even if they did, not so bad if the depot is next door and I can drop the item off at the Service depot as soon as I list it, and then just sit and wait for something to happen.
    If nothing happens, then I just pop-in, retrieve my item and off I go. Right?
    As long as these people don’t nail me for ‘storage and handling’ 😯 eBay’s fees would be my only expense.

    Now imagime this Fulfillment Service depot is in another city … and it costs me to mail the item just as much as it would cost mailing it to a Buyer directly.
    Now, if the item does not sell, would I have to pay return mail, plus handling, plus storage?
    If I didn’t, would they charge me ‘storage, handling and disposal fees’??

    I imagine this Service is just a proposed possibility, and frankly until one knows all the conditions of use it is really impossible to speculate.
    But I really hope it will be an option only.

  29. I’m sure some you you one here will know of this website but I use it all the time, it might help #31.


    It allows you to specify the exact dimensions of the boxes you want, and order in multiples of 25. They all kinds of other stuff too but the box builder is great.

  30. I wonder if this service will send DVDs for free? As they expect everyone else to.


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