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eBay takes on Amazon with guaranteed 3-day shipping

The auction site also revamped its home page with personalized recommendations.
Steve Dent, @stevetdent
March 20, 2017
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In an effort to deal with formidable rival Amazon, eBay has launched a new program giving shoppers guaranteed three-day shipping on 20 million products. Called "Guaranteed Delivery," it also includes free shipping on "millions" of those items, according to eBay, and will roll out in the US starting this summer. The online marketplace also revamped its home page today to provide a more personalized experience for shoppers.

eBay points has 1.1 billion items listed at any given time, of which 67 percent already ship for free and 63 percent arrive within three or fewer days. With "Guaranteed Delivery" items, however, eBay will either refund the shipping or give you a coupon if they don't arrive on time.

Buyers looking to get items speedily will be able to filter searches based one-, two- and three-day delivery times. The company is also providing qualified sellers with new shipping tools so that they can in turn give buyers more accurate delivery times. Such things have become crucial for consumers in a world where Amazon can deliver an item within an hour and let you track packages to an exact spot on the map.

On top of that, eBay has launched a new home page that gives consumers a more, well, Amazon-like buying experience. Rather than forcing customers to follow sellers they like to see preferred products, it will feature stacked horizontal image carousels. Rows will be arranged by items that you've viewed recently and put on watch lists curated by eBay's algorithms. That works much the same way as content on Netflix, and eBay compared its new offering specifically to that service's home page.

It's not the first time eBay has changed its design -- in 2012, it adopted a Pinterest-like list of offerings, and a year later, a look based on the user's interests. However, both of those designs required some user intervention and "that was a lot to ask a casual customer," eBay's Head of Personalization and Engagement Bradford Shellhammer told Recode.

The desktop rollout redesign is now live, but it may not reach your neighborhood until mid-2017, and the mobile refresh is coming at the end of the year -- something that should tell you a lot about who eBay's customers are. As mentioned, the Guaranteed Delivery service will arrive this summer in the US.

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