Ebay could launch pop-ups in Sainsbury’s stores as it talks up the ‘power’ of physical retail

Following Sainsbury’s acquisition of Argos, Ebay says it is open to putting pop-up or click and collect experiences within the supermarket’s 1,200-store estate.

The supermarket giant’s £1.3bn acquisition of Argos-owner the Home Retail Group will create 1,000 new jobs and is expected to result in many Argos stores being transformed as concessions within Sainsbury’s larger stores.

Ebay already has a partnership with Argos (pictured) that allows its 200,000 UK sellers to drop off sold products across the brand’s estate – which Argos then delivers – or for buyers to collect items. The online auction brand also launched pop-up stores in London back in 2012.

Speaking to Marketing Week, Ebay’s director of EU advertising strategy, product and operations Phuong Nguyen said the Sainsbury’s deal could create even more opportunities.

“The prospects are huge and the merger makes a lot of sense for both groups,” said Nguyen. “It could potentially mean that [eBay pop up stores or a click and collect set-up within Sainsbury’s stores], yes.”

A move to include Ebay would make sense for Sainsbury’s, with it previously revealing it has around 6% of excess space, or about 1.5 million sq ft.

Nguyen added: “If there’s one clear thing from the strategy with Argos we’ve learned it is that consumers today want to shop on their terms. We have to be wherever they are, and wherever they want to shop. If that means eBay being more present in locations around the UK then that’s where we will be.

“The retailers that will win can offer world class ecommerce and world class physical retail. You can be the best on digital but sometimes a consumer just wants to touch and feel a product – that’s the power of pop-up locations.”

Post-brexit confidence

For the post-Brexit period of June 30 to July 5, GfK’s core consumer confidence index fell 8 points to -9. The GfK survey, which dates back to 1974, has not seen a bigger drop since December 1994.

However, Nguyen is confident the Ebay proposition can continue to generate consumer spend and says it is a brand geared up well for times of austerity.

“Our proposition is geared towards people being entrepreneurial and people being cautious about their finances,” he added. “It’s about the best selection and the best prices. In a difficult economy the Ebay proposition shines the most.”

Using VR for retail

Earlier this year, Ebay partnered with Australian retailer Myer to launch what it called “the world’s first virtual reality department store”.

An accompanying iOS and Android app worked with virtual reality (VR) headsets such as Samsung’s Gear VR as the brand offered 20,000 free “shopticals” — an equivalent of the Google Cardboard headsets — to shoppers.

And Nguyen said Ebay is “exploring” VR retail experiences in the UK market as well. His advice to marketers is to back VR and augmented reality early on.

He concluded: “We’re still in our infancy but the Australian idea is a taster of where things are going. If I could start a marketing agency or consultancy anywhere right now it would be in augmented reality, virtual reality and artificial intelligence. Those are the areas that are going to change the face of retail over the coming years!”

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