By Brianna Ahearn, contributing writer
Launched in 2012, eBay’s service eBay Now provided same-day local delivery to users via the eBay Now app. The same-day delivery area is a hot topic among retailers right now, with J.C. Penney planning on launching the service in 2015, and Macy's already offering it in several markets. However, news outlets like VentureBeat reported in June 2014 that the e-commerce marketplace company was rethinking their same-day delivery plans, and this week, eBay quietly pulled the eBay Now app entirely from app stores.
eBay Now let mobile users shop on their smartphones for a local seller for items near their zip code, then schedule a time for a valet to hand-deliver the items to their door between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. The service was offered in New York, Chicago, Dallas, and the San Francisco Bay Area, and cost an additional $5 flat fee. The goal for Ebay Now was to expand the service to 25 markets eventually, but that idea appears scrapped.
As of this week, eBay still has the eBay Now webpage up on their website, but haven't made an announcement about the future of the program. VentureBeat reported valets were fired in April, and a source who spoke to technology news blog Tech Crunch says eBay is taking the service and folding it into its existing apps and website. Customers can still online using eBay Now, but only on the main website.
“The big play in the U.S. has been around buy online, pick-up in store,” says Tom Allason, head of eBay Local. The company told Reuters that the retooling will allow them to expand logistics to smaller merchants who make under $100,000 annually. eBay Now had attracted several big box retailers including Toys R Us, Best Buy and Office Depot. VentureBeat reports that eBay says they will continue to work with their bigger retailers as well. A company spokesperson firmly told VentureBeat that there were no plans to shut down the service entirely.
It seems that same-day delivery is the dream of many retailers right now, but there are multiple components, including cost and order fulfillment, that can present obstacles. There's other big players in the game with Amazon and Google Shopping offering same-day delivery, and it's unclear how much eBay Now will change, or a timeline for its evolution. The service is still in development overseas. eBay purchased UK-based Shutl, a click-and-collect company that lets shoppers pick up their purchases on eBay from the retailer Argos. Wired reported this month the company is “expanding rapidly” thanks to the eBay purchase. The company is underway in testing same-day delivery in Berlin, Germany.