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eBay tests a speedy shipping membership service in Germany

September 11, 2015

eBay is taking a page from Amazon’s playbook today with the debut of a new membership program that allows for free shipping, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Called eBay Plus, the new service is being tested in Germany, and costs around $22 per year. Members will be able to access free, express shipping and free returns on millions of items. In many orders, members of eBay Plus will be able to receive items within two days.

The Journal reports that eBay (EBAY) was testing the program since earlier this year, and thousands of sellers in Germany have already signed up.

eBay has been struggling to meet consumer demands for faster shipping, as Amazon’s membership program, Prime, grows in popularity. Amazon (AMZN) Prime costs $99 per year, and includes free two-day shipping on more than 20 million items in Amazon’s marketplace, same-day delivery on some items, and access to streamed songs, movies, and TV shows.

eBay previously rolled out a local delivery service, eBay Now, which offered same-day delivery of items from local merchants in New York, Chicago, Dallas, and parts of the Bay Area. The company recently shut the service down as it made more sense for items such as diapers or groceries than collectibles and used items that are eBay’s core categories.

Also, since eBay doesn’t carry its inventory in a warehouse like Amazon, it’s challenging to really guarantee faster shipping from the marketplace’s individual sellers, many of whom are selling items out of their homes. With eBay Plus, the company is trying to incentivize sellers to participate in faster shipping times by offering a reduction on listing fees and better product placement in the online marketplace.

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