Shutl May Whisk eBay to Same-Day Delivery Success
Many of the big e-commerce players are tinkering with same-day delivery services, but the outfit eBay just purchased, Shutl, just might have cracked the code. Shutl doesn't operate a fleet of trucks. Instead, it relies on an algorithm to coordinate deliveries with local couriers. It keeps costs low through "lean operations and smart software," noted e-commerce consultant Rob Abdul.
eBay on Tuesday announced a set of initiatives -- including the acquisition of Shutl -- designed to help it offer speedier deliveries and a more personalized shopping experience.
Shutl uses couriers to deliver goods within a few hours of their online purchase. The company is currently operating in Chicago and New York, as well as throughout the UK.
eBay did not elaborate on how it plans to integrate Shutl beyond saying that its technology, talent and expertise would help it expand its local delivery services. Shutl will continue to serve its UK and U.S. retail partners as it rolls out to more sites worldwide.
eBay has been experimenting with its same-day delivery service, eBay Now, in the New York and San Francisco areas and said Monday that it plans to expand it to 25 new cities by the end of 2014.
It launched the service in Chicago on Monday and will roll it out to other North American cities, including Dallas, later this year. eBay Now will also hit international hubs, with a London debut expected early next year.
The company is also in the process of creating more delivery and pick-up options for its customers. Soon they will be able to schedule a block of time that is most convenient to receive a delivery.
In addition, it is adding retail partners that will allow customers to buy products online via eBay's website and then pick them up later at local stores. Right now, the service is available for Best Buy and Toys "R" Us, and more retailers will be added soon.
eBay also announced some new features designed to make shopping on its website more personalized. It is rolling out Collections, a feature that allows users to build a page -- similar to Pinterest -- to display the pictures of all of their favorite eBay listings.
Customers will have the option to Follow the collections, curators or users they like, and to receive updates about the latest offerings from the sellers in their feeds. Users will be able to create profile pages that help them share that information or connect with followers.
In addition, eBay will feature more curated editorial information about some of the best or most interesting products and designers on the site, along with the stories behind them.
The changes could boost user engagement by prompting shoppers to spend more time on the site clicking through to several listings.
Cornering New Markets
eBay is not the only company hoping to entice customers to its platform with the promise of super speedy delivery. Amazon, Walmart and Google have tested same-day delivery in several markets.
Consumers are more concerned with getting an accurate delivery than one that comes within minutes, but eBay is smart to recognize the direction the market is heading, said Matthew Ogborne, e-commerce specialist at UnderstandingE.
"Right now, customers are happy with next-day delivery, but what they really want and where this will go, is that they can have that new dress or mobile phone in their hands in a scale of minutes, not hours or days," he told the E-Commerce Times. "If eBay can do that, that's just amazing for customers."
The Shutl buy could help it offer that faster delivery sooner than its e-commerce competitors, said e-commerce consultant Rob Abdul.
"While Amazon is busy building more warehouses across the U.S. in order to offer same day-delivery, eBay pulls a rabbit out the hat by acquiring Shutl," he told the E-Commerce Times.
"Shutl fits in neatly with eBay's decentralized corporate strategy," said Abdul. "Shutl does not own delivery trucks or employ drivers. Its business is centered around an algorithm that acts as a middleman matching orders with local couriers. Lean operations and smart software is Shutl's strategy to lowering the cost of the same-day delivery."