On Thursday, eBay announced the launch of "Up & Running," an accelerator program aimed at helping retailers without an e-commerce presence transition to selling online. The e-commerce platform is pledging $100 million to support North American small businesses.
As part of the program, eBay is offering new businesses a free basic eBay store for three months and waiving selling fees for up to 500 sold items, according to the company's statement. Additionally, eBay will provide marketing and merchandising tools, discounted shipping supplies and customization features so businesses can build their brands.
The Up & Running program will also provide educational webinars, individual support and access to sellers who can mentor e-commerce novices, the company noted in its statement. Over the next few weeks, the platform will highlight small businesses on its site.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, e-commerce companies like eBay, Shopify and Amazon had introduced new tools and initiatives aimed at bolstering small and mid-sized businesses. But as retailers large and small close their physical storefronts to comply with regulations, the outbreak has brought a renewed focus on e-commerce.
With the launch of its Up & Running accelerator program, eBay joins other companies, including FutureProof, Walmart and Indyme, in re-thinking their technologies in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to eBay, which cites information obtained from the U.S. Small Business Association, 70% of small businesses do not have an online presence. "[W]e've created Up & Running to accelerate the start-up time frame for retailers opening online stores during these unprecedented times," Jordan Sweetnam, senior vice president of eBay North America, said in a statement. "EBay was built on the simple premise that connecting buyers and sellers around the world creates economic opportunity, and this is exactly what we need to be doing — now more than ever."
The pandemic has hit small businesses deemed non-essential particularly hard. Coresight estimates that more than 15,000 stores could close permanently this year, in part due to COVID-19. Though the recently passed stimulus package includes resources for small businesses, experts say that it'll take a long time for the economy to recover from the coronavirus outbreak.