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Sold! eBay testing customer loyalty program similar to Amazon Prime

Even while eBay is cutting parts of its operations — like spinning off PayPal, for example — the company is adding new features and benefits to its core business. Now the company is experimenting with a loyalty program similar to Amazon’s Prime.

The program is known simply as eBay+, and is rolling out in Germany some time in the second half of 2015. There has been no word on when or if the program will be headed to other countries, and pricing information is not yet available, though some reports indicate that it could cost between €15 and €20 ($16-$22).

“Through this new program, sellers will have the opportunity to commit existing customers even more strongly to themselves and to gain new customers in addition,” eBay Germany director of communications Maike Fuest told The Street. While the program is being pitched as a benefit to customers, it involves a lot of changes for eBay sellers who want to participate.

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To participate in the program, sellers on eBay must maintain “top-rated seller” status, ship quickly, and offer free returns for a month after shipping a product. Fuest said that sellers will be required to ship packages the same day they are ordered, while the program announcement page (which is in German) says that sellers will need to use a shipping method where products “usually” arrive the next day.

It seems like eBay is putting a lot of the weight on the shoulders of sellers, but in return, it will offer sellers discounted selling fees, and will help to cover part of the cost of returns. Still, The Street notes that plenty of eBay community members don’t seem thrilled by the new program.

A lot of the “how” behind the eBay+ program may seem vague at the moment, but the why is clear. The recurring revenue from subscription fees is a clear bonus for the company, and The Verge points out that Amazon Prime members spend 68 percent more than non-Prime members on average. eBay is likely hoping that the eBay+ program will generate the same kind of increased purchasing.

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