My first ever ecommerce experience was on eBay and being a full time seller for a decade it left me loving the marketplace so it’s with regret I have to admit I buy more frequently on Amazon these days. And there’s only one reason for that and it’s not because prices are cheaper on Amazon or because they have a wider selection of goods – they don’t, eBay wins on both counts. The one and only reason I buy more on Amazon is convenience and service.
On Amazon convenience and service are king. Search for any product and, even if you don’t click the Prime button to limit search to products that can be delivered quickly, Amazon displays below each product the expected delivery date. Sometimes it’s today, sometimes it’s tomorrow, some times it’s a little longer, but right up front in search results I can make a buying decision based on how quickly I want the product. I now use Amazon for routine purchases which previously I’d have gone to the shops for simply because it’s quicker and easier.
eBay has massive advantages however, my last purchase was for brake bulbs for my car – on Amazon buying motors parts is a nightmare but on eBay you pop your registration number in and eBay instantly finds brake bulbs that fit your car. eBay has a superb selection of products and very often their sellers offer lower prices than Amazon merchants. Where eBay miss out is that they don’t allow me to see the fantastic convenience and service that so many eBay sellers offer… and bear in mind that many merchants sell on Amazon and offer next day delivery as well as selling on eBay. It’s not the merchants service on eBay that is at fault, it’s eBay not promoting their service.
eBay’s shipping offering for merchants is relatively sophisticated but at the same time desperately clunky for sellers and impossible to leverage for buyers. They offer the ability to specify cut off times, but not by courier or destination so the cut off time for same day shipping is the same for a 24 hour delivery to the UK as it needlessly is for a two week delivery to Australia. When shipping eBay will surface the carrier chosen by the buyer from the seller’s offer, but it’s still not easy to see at a glance what has to be shipped today and what isn’t due to ship until tomorrow.
eBay’s biggest failing however is still in search results. The only way to cut and dice search results is by ‘Free Postage’ or ‘Free Click and Collect’. In the search results display eBay still highlight Fast and Free, but this being Friday fast and free means I’ll be lucky to get a product before Wednesday next week and that really isn’t fast in today’s terms. Next day delivery – Saturday by Royal Mail or Monday by 24 courier is fast. Wednesday delivery can only be described as “Free and desperately slow“.
What eBay do do well now is, if a seller has specified a cut off time, display a ‘Despatched today if ordered within….” message. This is a fantastic piece of messaging which tells me that I can receive the product quickly, in this case perhaps even tomorrow as it’s shipped via Royal Mail. The problem is that I might have to click into a dozen products from search results before I find one with this messaging and quite frankly it’s simply easier to shop on Amazon.
I’d love to shift the bulk of my online purchasing back to eBay, if for no other reason that I know the prices are often cheaper, however I’m seduced by how easy Amazon make shopping. Please eBay, make 2019 the year that you display delivery promises in search results or add a button so that, if I’m in a hurry, I can find products from sellers who offer the convenience and service of fast shipping and fast despatch. If nothing else, at least display the “Despatched today if ordered within…” message on search result pages.