eBay Express coming to the UK

The online auction site is challenging Amazon and John Lewis with a marketplace for professional sellers who want to set up their stalls away from second-hand goods

eBay UK has announced it is to take on all e-commerce comers with a new site, eBay Express, which will go live in the autumn.

The site, a US version of which launched in April, will allow professional eBay sellers to offer only new items at a fixed price — the type of merchandise that users currently find with a "buy-it-now" tag.

Sellers will need to agree to a returns policy and to ship the goods within three days of receiving payment. Payment will be possible through debit or credit card or via PayPal, although all transactions are effectively processed through the eBay-owned PayPal system anyway.

One of the features of the new site that will distinguish it from eBay proper is that buyers can put items from multiple sellers into one basket and pay in a single transaction.

"It allows businesses to look like very established e-commerce players. More retailers from Essex can look like John Lewis online," eBay UK’s small-business manager Azita Qadri told ZDNet UK on Wednesday.

"When sellers are using eBay to list their goods with buy-it-now, and as long as they qualify that they’re a professional seller, they can just tick a box to say they also want the items listed on eBay Express, at no extra cost," Qadri continued.

"They can also, if they wish, list only on eBay Express, but in a way why not keep your items on both sites?"

Qadri said that eBay UK expected its 15 million users to turn to the new site as an alternative to online competitors such as Amazon or John Lewis. She also suggested that other seasoned e-commerce users, who had so far avoided eBay, might also be attracted, saying eBay Express "doesn’t have the charm of eBay.co.uk, but that’s not what appeals to everybody".

Qadri also insisted that eBay was maintaining its hands-off approach to the issue of small eBay-based businesses paying their taxes, saying that the company made sure its sellers were "educated as to what they should be doing".

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