On Friday, the world's largest online marketplace announced the launch of its U.S. exclusive eBay Bucks Rewards Program. The cashback incentive gives the consumer a 2% return on most items available for sale on the site.
"We're giving eBay's most loyal shoppers something special in return -- money to spend on eBay," said Lorrie Norrington, president of eBay Marketplaces. "eBay Bucks Rewards Program is free to join and easy to use, providing customers with even greater value when they shop the great selection and deals on eBay. With redemption rates well above industry average for comparable loyalty programs, eBay Bucks is a big hit with both buyers and sellers on eBay. It's seamless, simple and rewarding."
Once shoppers enroll in the rewards program, they can receive up to $200 for any single item and up to $500 per calendar quarter. Users are then presented with an eBay Bucks Certificate at the end of the three months, redeemable up to 30 days for eBay purchases through PayPal, the company's payment processing sister site which now has over 87 million active accounts. Purchases not qualified under the promotion include all Classifieds, Business & Industrial Capital Equipment, Real Estate, and eBay Motors categories.
Over the course of the beta program, which was made available to a select group of customers for the past year, eBay discovered that consumers taking part in the program spent five times more on eBay purchases than average customers. When it was released in eBay's Q2 earnings report back in July that U.S. growth was slower than expected, coupled with the data they poled from the trial program, the decision to make their cashback program solely available to an American audience for the interim was a no-brainer.
Dubbing it a "cashback" program though is really a misleading title considering you don't actually receive any cash. The eBay Bucks Certificate is the equivalent of Disney dollars to an $8 chocolate Mickey Mouse ice cream pops at Disneyland, or in this case, discount designer jeans, collectible action figures, and baseball card auctions. It takes away any real worth or value and makes its spending seem purposeless and carefree, ultimately stimulating the eBay economy with your frivolous spending.
This isn't the first we've heard of a cashback program being in the news recently. Microsoft's Bing Cashback, a similar yet ill-fated attempt at enticing users with discounts on purchases made through the Bing search engine, recently shut down on July 30, 2010 after lack of public interest left the venture stranded in the limbo of public appeal. eBay is hoping for better results.