RBC Capital analyst Stephen Ju has called for eBay to launch a fulfillment program similar to Amazon FBA saying that it would benefit both buyers and sellers alike. It’s not a new idea and eBay surveyed sellers about a fulfillment service as far back as January 2009.
It’s still an interesting proposition, but unlike Amazon, eBay are not a retailer and would undoubtedly contract out to a third party to run the fulfillment service.
Amazon started life as a retailer and built an infrastructure and only then invited third party sellers to sell on their site. Fulfillment by Amazon came later as an additional service and gives buyers the added benefit of combined shipping and shipping discounts and items from multiple sellers (including Amazon themselves) could be despatched in a single parcel.
eBay are not themselves suppliers and for buyers to benefit the vast majority of sellers would have to sign up to an eBay fulfillment service. I just don’t see that happening. Whilst many sellers do supply new boxed goods with UPC or EAN bar codes there are many more who sell used or unbranded goods, OEM parts which are new but don’t have retail packaging and bulky or fragile items requiring specialist packaging. These products are simply not suitable for a fulfillment service.
Amazon’s entire business is based around uniform goods with a barcoded catalogue whereas on eBay sellers list a much greater range of goods many of which are unique one off items. Many sellers who would benefit from a fulfillment service already use Amazon and it’s unlikely that eBay would convince them to switch to an eBay fulfillment service.
What do you think? Would your goods be suitable for a fulfillment service (whether with Amazon, eBay or another third party such as the Royal Mail)? Would you trust a third party to ship your goods or would you rather invest in warehousing and staff to pick, pack and despatch your orders?