Why eBay’s buyers are shopping on Amazon

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I’m constantly frustrated by sellers who can’t ship products within a reasonable timescale. Recently an Amazon purchase took 14 days to arrive which by anyone’s standards is pretty abysmal. Often sellers from other venues are just as bad.

eBay Fast n Free LogoeBay are behind the times too, they still promote “Fast and Free” as a supposed superb shipping experience worth highlighting in search results. The reality is that it’s a shockingly slow proposition with delivery taking up to three working days. In 2016 there is simply no way that a three working day delivery can be described as fast, shoppers demand a better service.

Increased Consumer Expectations

Deloitte in their 2016 Holiday Survey have now confirmed that consumer expectations are rising and even in comparison with 2015, shoppers in 2016 are demanding higher standards. Just 42% of consumers now consider a 3 to 4 day delivery to be fast, down a full 21 points from the 63% who considered 3 to 4 days to be fast a year ago. US consumers now only count a same day, next day or two day delivery to be fast.


The Driver – Amazon Prime

This increase in expectations has largely been driven by Amazon Prime. In the US, Amazon Prime’s proposition is a two day delivery which is now what consumers class as the minimum standard for fast delivery.

This should set even more alarm bells ringing in the UK where Amazon promise a next day delivery. Not only is Amazon Prime UK a next day delivery proposition, but Amazon are increasingly ignoring weekends and deliver next day on Saturday or even next day on Sunday.

The reality is that consumers are simply accustomed to faster deliveries and if you can’t offer them you’ll either lose out on sale or face increasingly irate customers. That could exhibit itself at best with customer phone calls or emails demanding to know where their purchase is, or at worst poor feedback impacting your seller metrics.

eBay’s Unforgivable Sin

eBay’s shipping team need to take notice of Deloitte’s research. eBay.com’s version of Fast and Free allows anything up to four working days for delivery to take place, even worse than eBay UK’s three working days. More importantly, eBay need to recognise that buyers don’t care about Fast and Free but they do care that it’s impossible to search eBay for a fast delivery when they need something in a hurry.

eBay have no mechanism to allow consumers to search for products which can be delivered next working day even though they enable sellers to specify cut off times for same day shipping. It’s unforgivable that sellers are able and willing to ship today and deliver tomorrow but eBay doesn’t provide a search option for buyers to find these offers.

eBay’s Fast and Free is wrong on both counts. It’s not fast and customers don’t always care that it’s free – fresh research found that 88% of UK consumers are prepared to pay for their delivery when they want a truly fast service.

If consumers can’t find products with fast shipping on eBay, is it any wonder that so many shoppers sign up to Amazon who with Prime make it easy to find products which will be delivered tomorrow?

26 Responses

  1. The problem is the way eBay beat sellers over the head on shipping times. As a real world example, I ship anything bought before around 2pm the same day, anything after next day. They all go first class post. However, the Royal Mail times are out of my control, sure the majority get there next working day, but this is not and never has been a guaranteed service….. but eBay thinks otherwise. Any that take longer buyers will ding me for just by answering the seemingly innocent question did it arrive before xx date. In order to stop this I’ve had to lengthen the dispatch time shown by another day or two in order that I don’t fall foul of eBay’s ridiculous expectation they set buyers. This result is zero percentage on late delivery figures, but a small loss in sales since I’ve changed.

  2. Yeap, due to not being able to control how well Royal Mail perform we actually state we post 2nd class but in fact we post 1st. At the moment, the lost of sales seems minimal but perhaps in time the effect will become bigger if consumer are being “moulded” that way….

  3. Chris, very good article. As a seller that offers next day delivery and invests in the inventory to do this I have often asked myself why eBay don’t allow buyers to search for next day delivery. The reason is obvious once you think it through. So many sellers would say they could do it but could not. Thus letting customers down. After 11 years of selling on eBay I can recognize this in many competitors. Come on eBay sort these rogues out.

  4. ebay will never offer a “next day delivery” search option until they abandon their feedback system. Many reasons for this:-

    1) They have no direct control over shipping and delivery times
    2) It would highlight higher prices to consumers driving them elsewhere
    3) It would highlight whole pages of products with negative feedback and low DSR’s simply resulting from the shipping failure for those buyers who require this above all else
    4) It could impact the returns process
    5) It could jepordise the click and collect arrangements with Argos

    And so on.

  5. Great article Chris and so true, makes you wonder WHY ebay asked us to implement a next day shipping option on all our listings but then you cant actually search that way – Pointless

  6. we ship same day 99.% of the time though we enter a 3 day handling time so not to fall foul of ebays daft estimates and rules

  7. With Royal Mail only delivering around 90% of first class mail next day I can’t risk offering next day delivery on Ebay although I would like to.

    If Ebay changed the expected delivery time for 1st class mail to a more realistic 1-2 days I am sure a lot more sellers would offer it.

  8. Ebay’s Fast & Free is a complete lie – it should say Fast OR Free. Most sellers with this badge offer both options but the ‘Free’ post is often 2/3 days dispatch and second class post. If you want ‘Fast’ there’s usually a huge supplement.

    So you get either/or, not both. Very misleading.

  9. As Tinker and others say, customers are more willing to give you bad feedback and knock you on delivery time so sellers are wary of offering something that may be out of their control.

    At present we have 100% good feedback but 1.7% of our items are showing as delivered late

    We offer next day posting with 2nd class RM – in reality 90% of items go in the post the same day up till 5.30pm.

    We charge extra for 1st class and if people want to pay the extra there i no guarantee RM will deliver. Personally I do not have an issue with RM delivery schedule.

    Customers more often purchase on price or repeat business from a trusted seller than urgency. There is often no need to have your item tomorrow. I certainly can not think of the last time I purchased something I desperately needed the next day.

    I think customers should be able to search for next day if that is what they really want / need.

  10. eBay can’t match Prime because Amazon have their own delivery infrastructure with their own delivery drivers. Amazon is a retailer and eBay isn’t.

    This might sound obvious but they’re different. Also Prime delivery is a premium service that you pay £79 a year for. It’s not really fair to compare a paid for service with something that is free.

    Personally speaking as a buyer, since I got Prime about 16 months ago, Amazon is the first place I look where it always used to be eBay.

    As a seller on eBay I send everything 2nd class with an option to pay for 1st, with a 3 day handling time. I don’t take 3 days to send the items but my feedback is full of ‘fast delivery’ type comments. I put the 3 day handling time in a while back when RM mislaid one of my sacks because eBay allow people to open INR cases based on silly delivery ETAs.

    But if I ever need anything urgently, I won’t buy it on eBay unless it’s the only choice. I’ve been stung too many times by sellers who say they’ll post the same day but don’t, and ignore you when you question it.

  11. I ship everything on next day delivery but say i ship everything on 2 day delivery.Thats because Ebay beat you with it and its easier to under promise.Plus a lot of Ebay buyers think a card left to ring doesnt concern them and can ask wheres my item etc.I now sell 90% on Amazon 10% Ebay,but still get more problems on Ebay.
    Ebay should of launched their own courier years ago for sellers,but they are too greedy to invest their cash flow,and have ended up pretty much out of the game now.

  12. I would actually say RMG and eBay are behind the times. Fast and Free should be 1st class min and 1 day ship.
    Amazon are not always on time with PRIME either, and they are an expensive marketplace to sell on, and it is a total race to the bottom, long term this is not good for small business in the UK.
    RMG are the main culprits for not having invested in the network, dealt with the growing mail fraud in the UK. 1st class registered should have been replaced by now.
    Last week we sold in 1 night 18 units of a popular item on Amazon, which we are lucky to sell 2 a week on eBay. We are better priced on eBay. Come direct you get BEST price. This is the 1st year ever we have taken less on eBay in October than the year before. Problem is I do not want to play the Amazon game only the big boys win that. Facebook are going to be big soon, we have started getting direct sales on our website Via Facebook for the 1st time since they gave us a shop on our page.

  13. Anyone with a brain knows that in the real world First Class post isn’t a guaranteed one day/next day service. So if offered that or next day Parcelforce with a price you either take a chance on the “free” First Class option or pay for the guaranteed service.

    Although eBay’s shipping set up is outdated and needs improving people should take some responsibility for their own dim-ness if they believe they will definitely get something next day when sent First Class.

  14. Ebay have lost their way and getting worst. eBay was our biggest marketplace with over 65% of turnover 4 years ago now it is less than 30% and reducing monthly. In August we had 5 buyers mark us down as “not delivered on time” We can’t prove it because we do not use a tracked service because eBay buyers will not pay the extra. We offer next day delivery ( actually costs us because of paying eBay’s commission on top of it ) but it is rarely bought by eBay buyers. We were suspended and now have restriction on how many items we can list so now we are selling less, eBay and buyers are losing out again, just rubbish.
    The biggest problem and it is the huge mistake that the Internet Retailers Industry made which was offering “Free Delivery”, it is delivery “INCLUDED” because I have never found a free delivery service. It is really hurting our industry as it is giving buyers unrealistic ideas.

    We need eBay to compete against Amazon but even listing to them at conferences and Expos and talking to their staff, they are totally lost.

  15. Join the club mate , We have seen our sales plummet in the last three months due to being knocked down the pecking order, due to our seller rating being reduced all because we were out of stock of a couple of item’s ,And I mean plummet by at least 70% less sales , we have tried relisting, dropping prices but when your on the last page on ebay and have been forcibly put there by the company you actually pay to promote your goods what is the point ! It’s ridiculous.
    We list and sell over 800 different item,s for scooters and motorcycles in many different sizes weights etc.. so it is inevitable that we might miss an advert and get caught out but it’s hardly the crime of the century especially when we refund right away . After ten years we are now giving up as the last few months have finished us with eBay.
    E bay invited us to invest in an eBay business , increase stock upgrade our shop etc.. But treat us like errant schoolchildren when we have a problem , Nobody listens because they have no idea they really are clueless .Your point on delivery is spot on ,we have marks against us due to delivery times ,customers buy it on a Friday night,we send it on Saturday hoping it will get there on Monday if not stand by for your seller rating being reduced even if you send it the same day, woe betide you if Royal mail screw up. yet what more can a seller do. It’s a ridiculous way to measure a businesses efficiency and worthiness , Really ebay need to employ people who live in the real world not university students with a degree in fuckology who have no idea of the problems businesses face regarding stock levels ,delivery services,dishonesty etc..
    So to all you other posters I sympathise we have been there are there and are as pissed off as you .We are leaving and are currently running our stock down , There is no point ,Finally I would like to say Thanks ebay for finishing off our business, Oh and our feedback is at 99.6 % ! yet we have been finished by ebays ridiculous seller rating system …Thanks ebay….

  16. eBay totally contradict themselves with this FAST & FREE. They want sellers to offer this to make customers happy – but then promote Chinese sellers who cannot offer it. Only a few of my friends use eBay to buy due to not knowing if the item is really in the UK or not (They buy clothing which they want for events, nights out etc within certain timeframe) – they now use other sites who promise it and they know the item is located in the UK.

    I used to offer Special Delivery as an option. I have not since they brought in the managed returns system as if someone returns the item, they make me refund the whole amount – whereas UK DSR state I don’t have to refund the posting “upgrades” just my basic postage – and my buyers understand this.

    I offer Special Delivery on all other channels though, just not eBay. We as a company cannot afford the loss (We send parcels so Special Delivery is usually around the £11 mark).

    eBay really needs to sit down and sort itself out – its not giving the buyers what they want (Fast postage options, items located in the UK that LOOK like the picture, customer service thats not in Philippines and has many loopholes) I really can see why people are flocking to Amazon, I myself spend more time buying on there, because I sell more on there now.

  17. ebay have a logo for “fast and free” but for so way of searching for it, go to Amazon search for an item click “prime” and quick postage item found, easy – it’s not rocket science to implement!

  18. Good article and good discussion.

    Last night I returned to eBay after abandoning the marketplace 3 months ago – I listed two new ads, both job lots so hardly confidence regained.


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