Online shopping emporium eBay has officially revealed that its long-rumored speedy-delivery program, eBay Plus, is set to launch.

The initiative has been tested since at least May of this year, and the company will launch the program this coming Tuesday in Germany, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

The annual €19.90 ($22.50) subscription promises buyers free delivery on “many items” within a two-day period, in addition to free returns within a month of purchase.

The move has been a long time coming for many eBayers, who often face unpredictable or unreliable shipping from sellers. This program effectively gets sellers to commit to set terms, so that buyers can know upfront when they’ll receive their item, and can rest assured that they won’t have to pay charges on top of the item’s price.

This does, of course, position eBay against its ecommerce competitor Amazon, which has offered speedy deliveries via its $99 annual Amazon Prime subscription for years. But a big difference is that Amazon houses many of its Prime-qualifying products in its own fulfilment centers, whereas eBay doesn’t. It’s not clear yet how many eBay sellers will eventually join the eBay Plus program, though during the trial “thousands” reportedly signed up.

There are extra incentives for sellers to sign up — for example, they may receive a reduction on their listing fees and “improved product-listing placement,” according to eBay. It sounds like Promoted Listings may be offered standard to participating sellers.

It seems that this membership program is less about securing revenues for eBay, and more about keeping eBay competitive in the long-term, with new entrants such as in the U.S., Matahari Mall in Indonesia, and a plethora of other local players around the world.

Given the potential logistical challenges eBay faces compared to Amazon, it is focusing on a single market for now, so it can test the waters and see how it scales. If the limited launch proves successful, there’s every chance the program could expand into other markets, though the company hasn’t committed to any plans on this front.


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