eBay's fledgling eBay Now home and office same-day local delivery service is available to more users and can be accessed by desktop computer users, under an expansion of the program unveiled by the company.
Previously, buyers could only access eBay Now through a mobile app on a smartphone or tablet, but the service is now available through Web browsers on desktop computers and laptops, according to a July 22 post on the eBay Blog.
"Enjoy the ease of using eBay Now, eBay's local shopping app, but wish you could also place orders through your laptop?" the post stated. "Now you can. eBay Now announced Monday it was expanding to the desktop, moving closer to making its 'store to door' shopping experience available on all screens."
That means that desktop and laptop users can now peruse products from stores like Macy's, Home Depot and Target at eBay Now, place an order online and have their items delivered to a specified location, usually within the hour, according to the post.
Until now, eBay Now service was only available to mobile users in San Jose, Calif.; San Francisco and New York, according to the company. Now the service is being expanded outside those borders to the Bay Area Peninsula near San Francisco and to Brooklyn and Queens in New York City. Later this summer, the service is expected to be expanded to Chicago and Dallas, the company said.
The idea to enable desktop users to buy using the service was made to expand the service's market, Dane Glasgow, vice president of local and mobile services at eBay, said in a statement. "We want to make every screen shoppable, and eBay Now is the latest example of how we're bringing that to life."
A key reason for the move, he said, was research that showed that more than half of the company's orders are made between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., when customers are usually at work. "We want to make it easy for consumers to access eBay Now on any device," he said.
In an email reply, Glasgow told eWEEK that the company is not disclosing sales or usage figures for the fledgling eBay Now service so far, but that the program has "seen usage by a wide range of consumers who've ordered items for delivery to houses, workplaces, bars, and parks, and [we] anticipate strong user adoption in the coming weeks and months. I can tell you that we're encouraged by what we've seen in this test-and-learn phase."
The cities where the service is being unveiled are being chosen carefully, based on such factors as topography, transportation, weather, demographics and more, said Glasgow. "Gauging user engagement and demand is the immediate goal in this test-and-learn pilot phase. Later this summer, we will expand eBay Now to Chicago and Dallas because it's important to understand how eBay Now works in different types of cities. We are encouraged by customer response and believe we have the size and scale to make eBay Now attractive to our customers and profitable for us and our retail partners."
So far, one of the top selling items using the service is the iPad Mini, while the strongest categories of items include home and garden, electronics and apparel, said Glasgow. "Fridays are consistently one of our most popular shopping days."
First launched in October 2012, eBay Now offers convenience and choice for consumers who want or need something quickly, according to the company. Using the service, customers can get their orders through eBay Now valet delivery people at home, work or anywhere else. Delivery is free for the first purchase and $5 for each order thereafter, according to eBay.
Daniel Maycock, an IT analyst with Slalom Consulting, said that eBay is actively ramping up its efforts against competitors like Amazon and Google with the local same-day delivery service, which is becoming a hot market today.
"In order for it to scale, you need a good supply chain," said Maycock. "Whoever has the best logistics really wins in this game."
The staggered delivery locations so far show that "eBay is being cautious getting into the new space, especially for a company that is not familiar with buying new products and having them delivered," said Maycock. "I think they're definitely trying to further differentiate and diversify their portfolio of companies and get into a new service."
One reason for that, he said, is that another eBay division, Paypal, has been "struggling over the last several months" due to competition for online payments from services such as Square. "It makes sense to me that they would need to try something else," said Maycock. "There have been other companies edging into their space. They're trying to really diversify their revenue streams."