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eBay's Massive Retail Opportunity

http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2013/02/20/ebays-massive-retail-opportunity.aspx

Steve Heller
February 20, 2013

Due to high associated costs, it doesn't make sense for the majority of individual retailers to develop a scalable same-day delivery network. Now, if there was an on-demand same-day delivery network of drivers available to any retailer, it would have far-reaching implications for the entire retail industry. With the help of eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY), this seemingly impossible dream is about to become real. At the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference, eBay CEO John Donahoe positioned the company to become the same-day delivery platform for the entire U.S. retail sector.

I want it now!
eBay is currently trialing eBay Now, a same-day delivery service available in San Francisco and New York City, which generally allows goods to be hand-delivered about an hour after being ordered. Companies like Best Buy, Macy's, GNC, Home Depot, Office Depot, Radio Shack, Target, and Walgreen have signed up to participate in the trial, which gives them the opportunity to stand out more against price-competitive e-tailers.

Innovate first, get paid later
The first order of business for eBay Now is to drive innovation to the platform by developing a delivery network that leverages excess delivery capacity in a local area. Donahoe wants investors to think of eBay Now as the Uber of delivery networks, in the sense that the delivery platform sends out orders to highly reviewed delivery drivers that are available in the next hour. While still in beta, eBay Now's pricing structure requires a $25 minimum order and charges a $5 delivery fee. If eBay can manage to successfully add value to retailers, it will be able to aggressively monetize the service in the future. For the time being, the focus is more on eBay to build out the service beyond two trial areas.

The power of being first
In the world of business, sometimes being first carries more importance above anything else. That's why Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) also has been trialing its own same-day delivery service in San Francisco that relies on excess delivery capacity. For Google, the intent is to collect more data so that it can better target advertising campaigns and further unlock the true potential of the Android ecosystem. Over the long term, Google envisions deploying a fleet of its driverless cars for a same-day delivery network, which could give it a cost advantage over eBay's approach and would also allow it to theoretically operate round the clock.

With over 4,000 stores in the U.S. alone, Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) is in a unique logistical position to offer its own same-day delivery service. By leveraging its e