The online marketplace’s eBay Now same-day delivery service only offers limited inventory in most markets, as it has shifted attention to see if it can make inroads among small- and medium-sized businesses.

Search “eBay Now” on Google and the description you receive tells it all: “A description for this result is not available because of this site’s robots.txtlearn more.”

eBay began testing eBay Now service in 2012 with the pledge to deliver goods to shoppers in one hour via courier for $5. It bolstered that initiative in October 2013 when it bought Shutl, a courier network for same-day deliveries for online shoppers. At the time, eBay planned to operate eBay Now in 25 U.S. cities by the end of 2014.

But after much hype, the online marketplace has scaled back its ambitions for the same-day delivery service. The first part of that shift occurred in November when it moved eBay Now from a standalone app onto the eBay website and into its core mobile apps. While consumers still can pay $5 to get some basic items delivered from major retailers in a handful of markets, such as Chicago, Dallas and San Francisco , the online marketplace is rethinking how it approaches same-day delivery, says Heather Friedland, eBay’s vice president, local and seller experience.

EBay is running a test in Brooklyn with about 80 merchants in five categories to see if it can figure out an eBay Now formula (it has rebranded the effort eBay Local) that works for small- and medium-sized retailers. While delivery is part of the effort, the service allows for in-store pickups and standard shipping. The delivery service costs consumers $5 and is free for sellers.

The test aims to see if eBay can leverage its massive user base and technology to connect shoppers with stores in their area.


“We want to figure out how to unlock the power of the platform,” Friedland says. 

For much more about eBay and its future, read the upcoming issue of Internet Retailer magazine.