How to save the British high street?
It’s a question that gets asked more and more as towns and cities fill up with charity shops, supermarkets and boarded up units.
eCommerce is considered the main villain here. But maybe it’s the saviour.
eBay thinks so. It wants to make online commerce complementary to the physical shopping environment.
So now it’s launched a partnership with Argos to enable eBay shoppers to collect their items from physical stores rather than have them delivered.
The auction site says 40 per cent of UK shoppers used some form of click and collect in Christmas 2012.
It believes most online retailers don’t have the scale or resources for local fulfilment, which is why they rely on third parties couriers. It reckons partnerships like this one with Argos could give it an edge.
In the first instance, 50 top merchants will be able to distribute via 150 Argos shops. Longer term it will be extended to more merchants and outlets. Argos has 740 in all.
Of course, for eBay this will be a fact finding operation and, if successful, it will explore working with other high street outlets.
In two related announcements, eBay also confirmed it will launch the eBay Guarantee for no-quibble refunds and eBay Now, which lets people order and receive goods in under an hour.
Further ahead, it’s promising more dramatic innovations around social and curation. It says these will form part of its biggest re-launch to date.