Did you drop the ball on Valentine's Day and wait until the last minute before picking out a present? If so, eBay is here to bail you out -- even if your date is just a couple of hours away.
Last fall, the company started offering same-day delivery in New York and San Francisco in the form of eBay Now, an iOS app that lets you order virtually any item on the shelves at a local retailer and have the product delivered in as little as an hour. A courier will run to the store, buy the item you've chosen and then deliver it to you anywhere in the city. According to a spokesperson for eBay (EBAY), 90% of orders are delivered within 70 minutes.
Normally you'll have to pay $5 for delivery on top of the cost of the item. But through Valentine's Day, you can get unlimited free delivery on all orders.
The eBay Now app only works for select retailers; in New York, I can get items from major retailers like Target, Home Depot, Walgreens and Macy's, among others. While that means you can't send an eBay courier to the local flower shop to buy a bouquet of roses and bring it to your wife's office, there are plenty of gift options. Want to get a box of chocolates? There are plenty to be found at Target. Going with perfume? Send the courier to Macy's.
If buying stuff at its normal price and then delivering it in an hour for just $5 doesn't sound like a profitable enterprise, you're right: The company isn't making money on eBay Now. But with Amazon (AMZN) and Walmart (WMT) both making forays into the same-day delivery game, eBay is willing to lose some money in the short-term to establish its own foothold.
At some point in the future, eBay might raise the delivery price or explore other avenues for making the service profitable. For now, though, New York and San Francisco residents with iPhones and iPads can take advantage of eBay's grand experiment in super-fast delivery.
And that's good news for all you procrastinators out there.
Matt Brownell is the consumer and retail reporter for DailyFinance. You can reach him at Matt.Brownell@teamaol.com, and follow him on Twitter at @Brownellorama.
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