ebay announced plans to take over the High Street with its first “bricks and mortar” shop due to open on 1st December, in Dean Street, London. This will take the form of a pop up store offering a discount of 70% on named brands. Combining the best of both online and in store worlds, customers will benefit for the first time from the convenience of scanning QR codes on real products they can touch and feel and having them packaged up and sent home.
This comes at an interesting time, with the news yesterday that Philip Green’s Fashion empire, The Arcadia Group plans to close 260 of it’s stores and it’s jewel in the crown Topshop, announced that profits have declined a massive 38% YOY. With more and more retailers focusing their ever decreasing profits online and on the growing mobile channel, this move really bucks the trend. So, why are ebay doing it?
Ebay’s heartland lies in the democracy of the faceless, limitless internet: open access to all regardless of location, category (everything from a combine harvester to a teaspoon) or means. Your passport? A paypal account. It is this technology and ease of use that they are transporting over from the virtual world and essentially creating a ‘suped-up’ Argos. In brand terms, the promise they have become synonymous with “powered and controlled by you” will remain, as the shop will employ “Quick Response Codes”. Shoppers simply scan the product they want to buy with their Smartphone, purchase it on-line and have it shipped home.
So, if Ebay currently stands for :
- Ease of use
- Reach and accessibility
…how will this Pop up outlet change the face of the brand?
Transactions will be limited to the usual one-way transaction of Retailer-to-Shopper, which means that the auction aspect will be lost in this incarnation. It can only signal a further commitment to their “Ebay Outlet” offering online, a virtual retail space for brands off-loading last season’s or unwanted stock at discounted prices. So, is Ebay’s intention to act more as a retail environment rather than a peddler of people’s unwanted junk in the attic and so create a kind of Amazon/TK Maxx lovechild?
We, at Vivid Brand, anticipate that it has ambitions to take on the likes of TK Maxx, Amazon & Argos , whilst exploiting their brand ethos and moving way beyond them. By creating an actual retail space, however small and temporary at this stage, it forces consumers to reconsider and evaluate ebay in a different light; One that positions them at the forefront of retail, offering deals, choice and ease, away from the unwanted tat in the attic.
What does strike us as interesting, is why none of this has occurred to Argos and why they have not evolved and developed their catalogue/collect concept to offer increased browsing and purchasing convenience and flexibility for their customers. Why do we still see printed catalogues (how very old fashioned?!) instead of digital catalogues with 3D views of the product, brand videos and try it on/check it out features? Why are there no digital panels in- store to purchase? Wouldn’t it be easier to just scan a QR code with your mobile, rather than queue, tap in a code, pay and then wait at a specific collection point? Despite Argos’s current stronghold on the UK high street, could this retailer soon be facing a very real challenge from forward thinking ebay?
Interesting times. Check back later for our review of the ebay Pop up Store when it launches at the beginning of December.