eBay Now rapid delivery service shut down

The e-commerce company continues trimming initiatives to focus on its core marketplace, saying Monday it's shuttering some delivery services and several mobile apps.

Ben Fox Rubin Former senior reporter
Ben Fox Rubin was a senior reporter for CNET News in Manhattan, reporting on Amazon, e-commerce and mobile payments. He previously worked as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal and got his start at newspapers in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Ben Fox Rubin
4 min read

Don't expect to see any eBay Now cars driving around after this week. eBay

eBay's US venture into speedy deliveries has ended up in the scrapyard.

The online marketplace said Monday it has killed off eBay Now, which it started three years ago to allow its customers to buy items from local stores, such as AutoZone or GNC, and then get them delivered as soon as the same day. Since then, several news reports as far back as a year ago expected eBay Now to shutter based on some early signs: eBay stopped growing the pilot program, shut down eBay Now's mobile app in December, and former CEO John Donahoe in October described it as "not essential to our core target customer."

A pilot program in Brooklyn that started in December and offered same-day deliveries from about 80 local merchants was also retired. eBay Now was available in New York, Chicago, Dallas and many parts of the San Francisco Bay Area. Both the Brooklyn program and eBay Now will wind down through the week and end completely by Friday.

eBay on Monday also said it will get rid off three less-popular mobile apps -- eBay Motors, eBay Fashion and eBay Valet -- to drive more attention to its primary app and cut back on customer confusion over which apps they should be using.

An eBay spokeswoman said in an interview that the company walked away from the delivery services after finding that same-day deliveries made more sense for items that customers would need quickly -- like groceries or diapers -- than for many of eBay's primary offerings, such as collectibles, antiques and vintage clothing. Also, she added, these same-day delivery networks tended to exclude eBay's core of smaller merchants, since many don't have storefronts or warehouses. The move also allows eBay to step away from the highly competitive fast-delivery market, where Amazon, Google, Uber and startups including Deliv, Instacart and Postmates are fighting for retail partners and customers.

"We continue to explore a variety of delivery options such as buy-online-pickup-in-store," the spokeswoman said. She added that eBay still offers in-store pickup at US locations including Best Buy and Toys "R" Us. The company also continues to pilot scheduled delivery in the UK and operate delivery networks in Australia, Germany and the UK that allows customers to collect purchased items in stores.

Just about all employees affected by the shuttered apps and delivery services will be reassigned, the spokeswoman said, though she wouldn't specify on how many workers would be affected.

The changes Monday keep up the San Jose, Calif., company's efforts to slim down and narrow its focus squarely on its online marketplace after eBay this month split from PayPal, the fast-growing digital payments business. eBay is trying to put more of its resources into its main website in hopes of reviving the marketplace's sluggish sales growth, particularly now that eBay doesn't have PayPal's strong revenue growth to boost its finances. Along with the shuttering the delivery services and mobile apps, eBay in the past few months agreed to sell its enterprise business, which helps operate other retailers' websites, and sold back its stake in Craigslist and ended outstanding litigation with the classifieds site.

There are questions, though, whether eBay will be able to successfully make a turnaround. RBC Capital analyst Mark Mahaney wrote in an investor note last week that eBay faces stiff competition, with Amazon aggressively growing its business and others including Facebook and Google experimenting with ways to sell goods on their sites. He added that eBay's current efforts to improve its website could be successful, but likely only have a small impact.

"As we're coming in and trying to ignite a new future for eBay, we need to get focused and we need to put all of our most talented people on the platforms where all the action is," RJ Pittman, eBay's chief product officer, said in an interview about the changes Monday.

The eBay Valet app and eBay Fashion app will be shut down in the coming weeks, with the services on both apps now available on the main eBay app or online. The eBay Motors app will be shuttered later this year. During the past month, the main eBay app was the seventh most-popular iPhone app by downloads in the lifestyle category, with Amazon being the leader, according to researcher App Annie. Meanwhile, eBay Fashion was No. 537 in the group and eBay Motors was No. 208.

"Customers have already largely decided," Pittman said about why eBay was shutting down the apps. "The vast majority of our traffic and engagement and purchases shifted ... into the core app already."