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eBay pulls back the curtain to reveal how it brings same-day delivery to customers

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ebay now event hero
ebay now event hero

As more retailers attempt to make same-day delivery a viable option for customers (and profitable to their bottom line), we're learning a bit more about how eBay handles the practice. The company launched its eBay Now service back in August with San Francisco as the sole test market, eventually expanding the program to New York last month. Unlike competitors that deliver items from their own shelves, eBay can pull inventory from a wide variety of stores that have signed on as partners for the venture. Using eBay Now's iOS app, users can order products from Best Buy, Target, Macy's, Office Depot, Payless Shoes, and other businesses.

Making same-day delivery profitable for retailers and attractive to shoppers will be key

Once an order is placed, eBay turns to specially-trained employees to promptly track down the item from one of its retail affiliates and make a timely delivery; the entire process usually takes "about an hour," according to the site. As you'd imagine, the relatively small number of eBay Now agents (around 50 per the Wall Street Journal) have become experts in navigating the service's trial neighborhoods — though the young workers don't hesitate to bring up Google Maps in less familiar territory. But while instant gratification is unquestionably attractive to customers, retailers have thus far struggled to make same-day delivery lucrative on their end. eBay is no exception, offering customers three free deliveries and even kicking in a $15 credit for first-time users. Without those bonuses, customers are required to pay a meager $5 delivery fee so long as they've met the $25 order minimum.

eBay insists it has time to figure out what works best. "We are focused on driving usage and iterating on the product,” one employee told Wired. More than anything else, eBay Now is intended to alter your perception of the brand. No longer satisfied with running the world's top auction website, eBay wants to stand toe-to-toe with established retailers like Amazon and Walmart. Whichever company makes same-day delivery scalable and sustainable in the long term stands to win big with shoppers.