Ebay's Express to take on Amazon

EBAY is looking to challenge Amazon and other online shopping malls with the UK launch of Ebay Express, a more regulated environment for professional merchants who want to sell goods at a fixed price, writes Paul Durman.

Most of the goods sold on Ebay still involve the online auction process for which the American Internet giant is best known. However, many of the established companies that use Ebay to trade also offer customers the opportunity to “buy it now” — to pay a fixed price and avoid the uncertain outcome of an auction.

Ebay Express is intended to cater for those who prefer a more traditional retail environment. It will only be available to merchants who are selling new goods, and they will have to meet a minimum standard of commercial behaviour.

For example, sellers using Ebay Express will have to ship goods within three days of a sale, answer customer queries within 24 hours and establish a policy on returns.

Doug McCallum, managing director of Ebay UK, said buyers who use Ebay Express will be able to use a “shopping cart”, allowing them to buy goods from several vendors at the same time, instead of having to pay each one separately.

McCallum dismissed any suggestion that Ebay Express was a response to the slowing growth of the original auction business. “The core site is growing at 10 times the rate of the retail sector,” he said.

Ebay will begin promoting the new website from next Monday. Ebay has more than 15m registered users in the UK. More than 12m Britons visited an Ebay site during July.

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