eBay UK plans discounted shipping, cross-border initiatives in 2013

Online retail marketplace eBay UK says it is looking to provide its sellers with access to preferential shipping rates and a new cross-border shipping service later this year.

The company said easy shipping was “fundamental” to successful Internet sales, but said it can be difficult for smaller and low-volume ecommerce merchants to access good low-cost shipping services.

eBay UK is promising a raft of new initiatives to improve the shipping experience for sellers, which it said draw on experience from around the world.

Beginning in 2013, eBay said it will aim to provide a new easier, fixed-rate pricing system.

It will act as an intermediary to give access to “competitive” pricing options to those sellers that don’t have the scale to negotiate preferential shipping rates on their own.

The company told Post&Parcel yesterday that the new pricing system will take the form of a tiered system, based on factors like sellers’ volume and status. But, spokesman Steve Heywood said: “The majority of sellers will have access to rates that are better than they could achieve on the open market for shipping services.”

The new pricing system will offer fixed rates for an extended period of time, taking market conditions into account. eBay could not say at this time how long these fixed rates would extend.

Cross-border

eBay said it is also now piloting a new cross-border shipping service, again based on a simplified pricing structure. The company could not reveal many details, but Heywood told Post&Parcel that the service would deliver prices with a “10-20% saving on comparable tracked services”.

The company is working with a shipping partner on the pilot, but would not reveal the name of the carrier at this stage.

Cross-border trade represents an “exciting growth opportunity” for ecommerce retailers, eBay said, estimating the number of shoppers its sellers might access globally at around 100m people.

eBay said it was working to deliver grow discounts for cross-border shipments particularly focused on mid-sized businesses, to help them accelerate growth and sell through eBay websites across the world.

The cross-border service and simplified pricing will be available for eBay sellers to access in various ways, depending on their requirements. eBay makes use of the CollectPlus parcel shop network in the UK for consumers and small businesses to drop off packages.

The company said its new initiatives would also make collections available for medium-sized and large sellers.

Economies of scale

eBay UK’s manager of strategic shipping partnerships James Miles said the new initiatives were about leveraging the economies of scale his company could achieve.

eBay has been operating in the UK since 1999 and describes itself as the country’s largest online marketplace, with 17m unique visitors each month and about 60m living listings on the UK site.

About 65% of the website’s goods are fixed-price, which is growing at a rate of 13% year-on-year.

Miles said: “By leveraging our economies of scale we’ll be opening up new opportunities to eBay sellers of all sizes and enhancing our customer offer – bringing increased selection to new markets and helping to lower delivery costs through these initiatives.

“This will deliver a triple-win situation: more opportunity for the shipping industry, more options for our sellers, and most importantly of all, a better deal for our end customers.”

UK eBay PowerSellers said it was “about time” the company used its scale to secure better shipping rates for its merchants.

One said that couriers have always argued that eBay does not have centralised warehouses or central pick-up locations and have therefore avoided giving the company preferential shipping rates, but that the volume of parcels that a preferred shipping partner could end up with would be “staggering”.

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