eBay Begins Trials of New Membership Scheme

Online retailing giant eBay have started trialling their very own membership scheme, currently nicknamed eBay+, to rival the likes of Amazon Prime.

The brand new proposal, which is currently being tested in parts of Germany, offers members free shipping and faster parcel deliveries, with the program currently being tested by a selection of eBay’s top rated sellers. Although pricing for the scheme has yet to be announced, some reports have suggested that there will be a membership fee of between €15 and €20 per year, which is approximately £14.  According to the Wall Street Journal, eBay also has plans to rollout the scheme to the rest of Germany later this year.

Speaking to digital finance website The Street, Maike Fuest, eBay Germany’s Director of Communications said: “Through this new program, sellers will have the opportunity to commit existing customers even more strongly to themselves and to gain new customers in addition.”

Amazon’s highly popular membership scheme, which currently costs £79 per year, promises members unlimited one-day delivery on selected items, as well as access to Prime Instant Video streaming service and the Kindle Lending Library.

It’s not only shoppers who look to benefit from the eBay+ scheme, should it be extended to other countries. According to a spokeswoman from eBay, sellers who abide by the scheme’s rules will benefit from discounts on selling fees, better placement of their products, and subsidies to reduce the costs of the delivery services. Once they have signed up to the scheme, sellers will be expected to ship the items on the same day, as well as offering free returns for customers up to one month after purchase.  

The reasoning behind eBay’s decision to create its own loyalty scheme is not difficult to identify, as a recent survey conducted by RBC Capital Markets suggested that members of the Amazon Prime scheme spend an average of 68% more than non-Prime members. 61% of people who took part in the survey also said that they had spent more money with Amazon since becoming members of the Prime scheme. Although the survey didn’t identify a specific reason behind the increase, Prime’s next day delivery is likely to be an important factor.

Unlike Amazon, eBay currently does not have any control on how products are shipped and delivered to customers, which does present a certain challenge when it comes to trying to compete against Prime’s one-day delivery. According to eBay, it will be up to those sellers who are a member of the eBay+ scheme to source a delivery method where packages will “usually” arrive the very next day.

Robert Mead, Marketing Manager at Parcel2Go.com said the pilot scheme shows how important fast delivery is to customers: “There is no doubt that the success of Amazon Prime lies largely with their next day delivery option, as customers don’t want to wait days to receive their orders and nothing puts a customer off faster than slow deliveries.

“When it comes to selecting a courier to deliver parcels, it’s important that sellers choose carefully to ensure that deliveries are quick, reliable and that the customer is satisfied throughout the entire buying process, from the moment they click buy until they receive their order.”

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