, which was in Wall Street's doghouse last week after issuing lackluster earnings guidance, on Monday began offering
eBay Express, a new fixed-price goods Web site, giving the largest Internet auctioneer a bigger foothold in online retailing.
For the first time, eBay will offer customers a shopping cart enabling them to make purchases from multiple vendors on the site. Only U.S. sellers that accept the company's PayPal service and offer immediate purchase can participate in eBay Express.
"We think eBay Express will attract new buyers to eBay and inspire existing buyers to spend even more,'' says Bill Cobb, president of eBay North America, in a statement.
Key to the success of eBay Express will be how well it takes customers away from more traditional ecommerce sites such as
, which is due to post results Tuesday, and
, which is to report Friday, says Shawn Milne, an analyst with Friedman Billings Ramsey, who rates the shares outperform.
"We expect eBay to market the new site heavily in the second half of the year, which could drive market-share gains and provide upside to our estimates,'' writes Milne. "The new site looks clean and uncluttered."
The feature underscores how fixed-price sales are becoming increasingly important to eBay. During the first quarter, they accounted for 34% of the $12.5 billion worth of goods sold on its Web sites. Listings for eBay Express will be culled for the main site.
Shares of eBay have dropped 18% this year. While pleased that the company reported an in-line first quarter, investors were disappointed that the company didn't boost earnings guidance. Wall Street analysts have long criticized eBay for giving projections that were too conservative.
"In our view, eBay has been extremely successful in attracting both the seeking and browsing shoppers, but we estimate that 20% to 30% of U.S. online shoppers don't buy on eBay because the shopping experience is too challenging, especially when the shopper knows exactly what they want to buy,'' wrote Goldman Sachs analyst Anthony Noto in a note to clients last week. He rates eBay shares as outperform.
Shares of eBay fell 16 cents to $34.93.