It seems everyone is getting in on the subscription service act.
Less than a week after Walmart announced it would be launching a $50 per year rival to Amazon’s Prime program, eBay is gearing up to announce its own paid subscription program.
Know as eBay+ and built around faster shipping and returns, the program is currently being piloted in Germany on a limited basis, with plans to expand that nation’s test run later this year.
In return for getting goods dispatched on the day of order (and offering cost free returns within one month of that original purchase), eBay is offering sellers better product placement, discounted frees and a subsidy to keep the price shipping and returns down, a spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal.
Prime, by some estimates, has picked up around 40 million customers paying $99 since its launch two years ago. In Germany the service even guarantees free next day delivery – a benefit eBay can not imitate since, unlike Amazon, it does not control shipping.
Apart from Walmart’s coming loyalty program, and class-setter Amazon, eBay will also be entering the arena with ShopRunner and Overstock.com. The programs are popular with retailers as they have a tendency to act like “golden handcuffs” that keep consumers shopping in order to get the most out of the fee they have already paid. Some analysts estimate, for example, that Prime members spend twice as much money on Amazon as regular customers.
Still, given incoming CEO Devin Wenig’s stated position on the likelihood of such a subscription program on eBay, the move toward the plus program is a bit unexpected.
"Whether or not our customers want a shipping program remains to be seen,” he said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal last year. “EBay customers require efficient shipping, but they care about the cost of shipping as much as the time."