EBay launched its holiday season on Wednesday, responding to internal research finding that nearly half of Americans (45%) start their holiday shopping well before Black Friday. Just 18% of consumers consider themselves "last minute" shoppers, in fact, with millennials in particular more likely to shop year-round (36%) or early (12%), according to a press release emailed to Retail Dive.
The online marketplace is highlighting some of its recent pricing and delivery changes as holiday advantages, including its new price match guarantee on more than 50,000 deals, guaranteed delivery and its revamped discovery-oriented site powered by artificial intelligence, the company said.
EBay on Wednesday also posted "First Minute Deals" from brands like Adidas, Dyson, Mattel and KitchenAid and will reprise that list on Nov. 6.
Considering how much holiday shopping is expected to occur online this year, eBay is well positioned for shoppers looking for convenience and free and fast shipping, thanks to its assertive initiatives from earlier this year.
The online marketplace still has many obstacles to confront, though. It doesn't have stores, like Walmart and others, to provide omnichannel services and marketing, nor does it have a membership like Amazon Prime to deliver a strong base of sticky customers, or a loyalty card like Target's, with added discounts. Its advantages, according to eBay, are the fact that no membership is required, that it plays host to a huge assortment, which increasingly includes brands themselves, and that it has those recently-enhanced curation and delivery policies.
To get the word out, eBay is running a video on television and online.
The company this summer launched a new delivery program, in which it guarantees delivery in three days or faster for 20 million eligible items, millions of which ship for free. Participating sellers must meet certain requirements, including a track record offering and following through on expedited delivery, according to eBay’s notice to sellers. Buyers can search items eligible for free, speedy delivery, and if a package is late, there are consequences: Buyers can request refunds on shipping, or if the shipping was free, they have the option of receiving eBay credit or returning the item at no cost. The auction and marketplace retailer also revamped its homepage, aiming for a Netflix-like level of personalization that brings customers suggestions based on search and purchase history.
Its Price Match Guarantee covers shoppers all season long, even throughout Black Friday and Cyber Monday — when some other retailers may not match prices, the company noted. But eBay is not the only e-commerce player with early deals — Amazon also recently launched its own Black Friday deals, despite the holiday being weeks away.
"We found that choice and convenience are the biggest reasons shoppers start sooner in the season, so we designed a collection of competitive early deals to offer their pick of top brands across electronics, toys, apparel and more," Suzy Deering, CMO of eBay North America, said in a statement.