eBay debuts same-day delivery service from local retailers, ‘eBay Now’

Giant online auction site eBay┬áhas launched a new same-day shipping service called ‘eBay Now,’ according to invitations the company sent out this morning.

The service, which is currently in beta and only available in San Francisco, will allow shoppers to gain same-day shipping on goods sold by local retailers. The purchase order must be at least $25, and users can only shop via the official iOS app at the moment. Orders should arrive within an hour, according to the company’s beta invitation.

The company is hoping to jump-start the service with a promotional deal that gives users $15 off their first purchase as well as free shipping on the first three orders. After that eBay will charge $5 for shipping during the beta, which it makes a point of saying.

The new service puts eBay in direct competition with Amazon, which already offers same-day shipping on products sold to customers in select big cities, including Las Vegas, New York City, Seattle, and Boston. For Amazon Prime members, the same-day service costs $5.99 per item (excluding the annual $79 for Prime membership) — not a bad deal for super fast shipping, but not overly great either.

VentureBeat Guest columnist Rocky Agrawal first spotted the eBay Now invites (which TechCrunch was the first to pick up on) earlier today. He’s previously written about how Amazon has a great opportunity to become a friend to small businesses, despite the retail company’s shaky history with local vendors. It seems that eBay would agree, and plans to do something about it via ‘eBay Now’.

Update: Be sure to read Rocky’s hands-on evaluation of the service.