EBay Tries “Anything” for Loyalty

By May 28, 2003

EBay has launched Anything Points, a loyalty-marketing program that lets bidders earn currency via promotional partners. Bidders can use Points alone or with cash to bid on any eBay item. Charter partners are Hilton, McAfee Security, Points.com and Sprint.

EBay expects to add partners by yearend and hopes to sign additional consumer members via those partners.

“We want to invite corporate marketers to utilize our program as a way to reach more potential customers, increase sales and build customer loyalty” said Don Albert, senior director of strategic partnerships for eBay. It can build eBay”s customer base, too: “Hardcore eBay members will be very interested in collecting points wherever they can get them,” Albert added.

Sprint and McAfee Security give points with purchases. Hilton lets Hilton HHonors members swap HHonors points for Anything Points, and online aggregator Points.com lets eBay members swap airline miles for Anything Points.

McAfee’s June launch gives Anything Points to home users who buy anti-virus, anti-spam, firewall or privacy services. Sprint woos consumers and small businesses for its discount domestic calling plans by offering Anything Points to new customers. “It’s an efficient and effective way for us to acquire and retain customers,” Jeff Mott, VP-marketing for Sprint’s Mass Markets Organization, said in a statement.

Anything Points are worth one cent each. They’re deposited in eBay members’ PayPal accounts. (San Jose, CA-based eBay bought online payment service PayPal.) Points aren’t transferable and can’t be used for shipping, tax or insurance. Anything Points don’t expire, but members must either earn or spend points at least once a year to keep their accounts active.