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eBay’s magic mirrors hope to cast a spell on competitors


With reported profits of £395m between March and June this year and shares in the company being up by more than 1.5%, eBay has introduced its first smart stores in New York and San Francisco. The online super giant has collaborated with fashion company Rebecca Minkoff, to present the futuristic shopping experience they assure will, “change the future of retail”.

The new stores include innovative magic mirrors to combine the ease of online shopping with the enjoyment of physically purchasing in store. Customers can select items by entering their mobile number into the interactive mirror, a text will confirm that they can try it on.

The changing rooms provide additional touchscreen mirrors. These use radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to identify items and offer a choice of other sizes and colours available. A member of staff is then on hand to assist with items or to provide a one on one stylist service. The RFID technology provides a choice of flattering lighting settings, ensuring the customer is fully comfortable with their choices. Steve Yankovich, Head of Innovation and New Ventures at eBay, believes that this will be fundamental to the stores success, stating, ‘If you bring five things into a dressing room and they don’t work, you might be tempted to leave a store”.

The stores can connect to customers who have the mobile app, meaning that the staff can see who is in the store and what they have tried on previously. This allows the stores to cater to individuals, while assistants can act like physical versions of competitor Amazon’s recommendation engine.

The collaboration comes as rival Amazon has seen ground breaking sales results, hitting 5.5million on Black Friday. Coinciding with eBays 13% growth in revenue from March to June being less than they had hoped, the stores aim to offer an original outlook on interactive shopping rather than having to compete with Amazon’s introduction of same day delivery.

Customers can effortlessly finish their visit by paying through eBay’s traditional Paypal, and with announcements yesterday from Klas Back (head of international and payment strategy at Braintree), that Paypal have now made the One Touch mobile payments service available globally, time will only tell how long it will take until competitors start to jump on the technological bandwagon.

Published on Friday 05 December by Rachel Gee

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