In the latest stage of eBay’s local evolution, the company unveiled this morning a desktop version of eBay Now, its $5 service that promises delivery in about an hour, as well as expansion of the offering into Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bay Area Peninsula.
"We’ve seen a strong desire to have eBay Now across all platforms," Dane Glasgow, eBay’s VP of mobile and local, says of the app, which was previously only available on iOS and Android. Customers located in San Jose, San Francisco, and New York, including the newly announced surrounding areas, can now access the service from eBay.com. According to Glasgow, expanding to desktop was a logical move: 20% of eBay.com visitors use both PC and mobile to access the site, and those multi-platform users make up 44% of eBay’s total sales volume.
But as eBay tells Fast Company, it’s only one silo in eBay’s plan to become the dominant force in both online and offline shopping. Along with eBay Now’s expansion to Chicago and Dallas by the end of the summer, as announced earlier this year, the company is also piloting the ability to pick up orders at retail stores, as well as view the store inventories of nearby partner retailers and schedule deliveries for purchases. "If I’m at work and I need something delivered to my home at the end of the day, those are the kinds of scenarios we’ll be bringing forward," Glasgow says.
In an era where speed and convenience mean everything to shoppers, those are also the kinds of scenarios other companies are trying to solve for—most notably Amazon, which last month announced the L.A. expansion of AmazonFresh, the same-day delivery service that allows customers to schedule drop-offs of everything from milk and eggs to iPods and headphones. (More cities are expected within the coming months.) Undoubtedly hoping to combat the unmatched speed and efficiency of Amazon’s infrastructure, eBay is increasingly positioning itself as a channel for connecting retailers—specifically, those with physical stores—to online consumers who have become spoiled on broad selection and fast delivery.
EBay says by the end of the year, it will also pilot a service that will potentially allow users to shop by neighborhood across the world. Imagine a Google Maps-like street view experience that would highlight all of the shops in SoHo or San Francisco’s Union Square district, for example, then let customers drill down to a particular item according to the inventory of those stores. The idea is to eventually roll up these features into the complete eBay experience, offering consumers a hybrid online/offline shopping solution that could be prove difficult for competitors to touch.
"What we want to provide is all of the traditional capabilities you have in an eBay experience within something that really brings that neighborhood to life," Glasgow says. "Whether you live near those places or halfway around the globe, you want to shop those areas just like you were there."