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The E-Commerce War Between eBay Inc (EBAY) and Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) Heats Up

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In order to help drive more sellers on to its platform, Valuentum’s Best Ideas Newsletter holding eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY)announced new, less complicated fee structures. The firm already charged lower fees than Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), but the new structure gives greater transparency to sellers. Instead of the previous 10%+ take-rates, eBay will now have more basic fees ranging from 4%-10% depending on the seller’s size and product mix.

eBay Earnings Report

The move is very positive, in my view, as I think it can help drive a stronger network of fixed price sellers to eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY). Though it has been associated with auctions since its inception, eBay is in the process of becoming a destination for buyers of everything, much like Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) has done successfully over the past several years. While Amazon may look slightly more attractive in the near-term because more buyers are on the site, I believe the cost savings at eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY) could help drive sellers to the eBay marketplace.

As much as I love eBay and the PayPal payment processing, PayPal presents an obstacle for eBay to make its seller network as comprehensive as Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN)’s seller network. PayPal, while a great service, constricts eBay’s payment functionality. Those who do not have enough cash in their PayPal accounts or who simply wish to pay with a credit card for whatever reason are not given the option. A consumer can pay for an item on eBay through PayPal with a credit card—but only if they do not have ample cash to cover the payment. This type of restrictive ecosystem is wonderful for driving profitability, but it could potentially be a hurdle for eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY)’s long-term marketplace growth.

Fortunately, I believe eBay can easily remedy this situation. There are three options to fixing this, and one is to start issuing credit via PayPal. This would make the service similar to American Express Company (NYSE:AXP) or Discover Financial Services (NYSE:DFS) rather than its Visa Inc (NYSE:V) -like toll collector model. PayPal already executes this function via Bill Me Later, but the program could be greatly expanded or rebranded to a PayPal name. However, I’m not a huge fan of this idea since I would rather the company not take on credit risk.

The second option to address the situation is to allow consumers to pay via PayPal with a credit card directly. I assume eBay doesn’t allow this because it helps PayPal’s competitors and likely lowers the fees PayPal earns, but with competing services like V.me coming into existence, I think PayPal should focus on making its service as compelling as possible. I see this as the lowest cost option for PayPal.

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