PayPal’s new fee structure has led a number of commenters to observe that if eBay had a shopping cart, the chances of multiple payments for a single order, each with a 30c fee, would be reduced. eBay users have, of course, been asking for a shopping cart for years – and there are signs that our long wait may be over in the not too distant future.
Scot Wingo (who probably ought to know) quotes Dinesh Lathi’s response to a seller’s question on carts:
Q: We see a lot of adoption from Amazon, but not as much from eBay – do you think that the cart on Amazon is helping them. Will eBay have a cart.
A: eBay is working with ChannelAdvisor on a cart that users are asking for – they will partner folks to deliver in a way that’s great for buyers sellers.
There’s been a rumour floating around for at least a couple of years saying “2011 for a shopping cart” – so maybe that’s not too far off. Amazon and Etsy both manage to offer carts that allow buyers to purchase from multiple merchants: eBay could certainly do a lot worse than emulate these two sites.
But though some sellers – and most buyers – are very much in favour of eBay introducing a shopping cart, every time this topic comes up, some sellers raise some legitimate concerns about problems it could bring. I wanted to take a look at how eBay could avoid the obvious pitfalls.
1. My competitors, or my buyers, could tie up stock un-paid for, by leaving it in their basket.
This is a pretty simple one to fix: the stock isn’t sold until it’s paid for. Put it in your basket and another shopper can still buy it if they pay first. Bonus result: no more unpaid BINs.
A slightly more buyer-friendly version would be that putting the item in your basket reserves it for five minutes. Pay in that time and it’s yours. Don’t pay, and the stock becomes available to everyone else again. This would be a little more difficult to implement (would My eBay/SMP need a section for “stuff that’s in people’s shopping baskets”).
Amazon and Etsy both say, it’s not yours until it’s paid for.
2. I’d be forced to charge more for shipping because I couldn’t figure out the cheapest way to ship a particular combination of goods until it was bought.
There is no change here from the existing Checkout situation. Your listings could still say “ask me for a total”: buyers could still be offered that facility. It’s not ideal, and if this is you, consider how many buyers you’re putting off by not figuring out a line of best fit with your shipping. Plenty of couriers offer “one price up to xx kg” deals now: see if that kind of flat shipping might not work for you.
3. eBay would push flat shipping fees.
With the implementation of a shopping cart, there is no reason that eBay couldn’t allow sellers to continue with their current variable shipping charges: Etsy manages this just fine. Amazon offers an extra page where buyers can choose from the specific shipping options offered by each seller, so if you want to upgrade to super-speedy shipping and the seller offers this, you can.
Alternative view: eBay are already pushing flat shipping fees and I expect them to do more of this. That isn’t necessarily about shopping carts, whatever Auctiva say. eBay’s maximum P&P amounts are more about stopping people overcharging than about any kind of cart integration.
4. Buyers wouldn’t realise they were buying from different sellers. I’d get blamed for other sellers not delivering.
Only if eBay implemented it like that. Amazon and Etsy both make it crystal clear who you’re buying from; I don’t see why eBay wouldn’t do that.
Alternative view: cross-promotions on eBay now are so confusing that buyers already don’t realise when they’re buying from different sellers. So this would be no change 👿
5. eBay could offer an in-Store cart to eBay Store/Shop owners…
They could. I really hope they don’t, because this doesn’t necessarily take into account the way that buyers use the site. Some buyers find a thing they want, and then check the seller’s store for other items: other buyers go back to search. If you could have half a dozen different carts on the go, all from different sellers, that would become spectacularly confusing very quickly. Better to emulate the Etsy model and have one cart, with different sellers clearly indicated.
Done right, introducing a shopping cart would make shopping much, much easier for buyers. And for sellers, it could spell the end of unpaid item disputes for BINs, and increase sales exponentially. Done wrong… I shudder to think.
6. What about auctions?
I don’t see any reason why auctions couldn’t be included in a shopping cart. One result of eBay’s format mixture is that buyers can compare auctions with BINs – often, the chance of a bargain from an auction versus the immediate gratification of a BIN. There’s no reason why auction listings couldn’t be “carried around” by a cart until the buyer was done shopping, and have “bid on these auctions” as part of the finalisation process alongside “pay for these BINs”.
What do you think? Do you have worries, or are you in favour of a cart? Leave us a comment.
Disclosure: ChannelAdvisor advertise with TameBay. They haven’t given us any insider info on the shopping cart story… yet.