EBay debuts 'bucks' rewards program

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Online marketplace eBay launched a rewards program August 3 that allows consumers to accrue “eBay Bucks” that can be spent on future purchases.

The e-commerce giant began beta testing the loyalty program in April 2009. It is now available to all US consumers.

“We want to reward our most loyal customers, our community,” said Marc Steffens, senior manager of the eBay Bucks Reward Program. “We've been in the market for 15 years. Really, what we want to do is give our loyal customers another compelling reason to shop on eBay.”

Registered members can earn 2% back on qualified purchases. Every quarter, they will receive a certificate stating the total eBay Bucks they have earned. Members then have 30 days to spend their rewards on eBay purchases, which are automatically applied at the point of purchase. Enrollment in the program is free.

Purchases of automotive, real estate and business and industrial capital equipment do not qualify, nor do items bought through eBay's classified listings.

The biggest challenge in creating the program, Steffens said, was the fact that eBay is not a retailer but an online marketplace, meaning it can't offer sales.

“What that tells you is we can't mark down the merchandise because we don't own it,” he said. “In a sense, we do have a different margin structure than a retailer.”

EBay, which has 90 million registered users worldwide, is marketing the program on its website, through e-mails and on social media sites.

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