Remember when eBay was an auction site? Those were the days. Nowadays, eBay
is a full-on storefront, keeping that auction setting at the core but building a vast network of other opportunities around it. There's Buy-It-Now, for starters, and there are a variety of opportunity to sell goods on eBay without going through the typical auction process. We suppose it makes sense for a site to branch out and explore other revenue opportunities, but to say eBay has maintained its small size while growing in scope would be a stretch. That said, the site is still churning out new ideas, and the latest one is probably one of its brightest.
Just weeks after Amazon was said to be taking same-day shipping to many more places than the handful of metro areas that it operates in now, eBay is reportedly sending beta invites to users in San Francisco asking them to try out eBay Now. It's an iOS app for now, offering SF citizens $5 same-day shipping on products from local stores. The idea isn't entirely fresh, but bolting this on to eBay's massive userbase could help it to reach critical mass far more quickly than startups trying to build a userbase and accomplish the same thing. Currently, you'll need to spend over $25 to take advantage, but beta users will get $15 off of their first eBay Now order in addition to free shipping on the first three orders.
It works every day of the week, but you'll need to order at least a half-hour before the associated store closes for the day. Partners, for now, include Target, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's, Best Buy, Macy's and Toys R Us. We suspect that this won't be the last we hear of such things. Retail stores are scared out of their wits by the idea of Amazon wrecking their business model. To them, giving up foot traffic is a small price to pay so long as people use same-day shipping via their own store instead of through Amazon. In other words, any business is better than no business.
Now, what happens if you place and order, pony up the extra $5 and it doesn't arrive on the same day? We're still waiting to hear about the refund situation...