Online retailer and marketplace eBay has today announced plans to open a bricks & mortar store in London in the coming weeks.
Blurring the retail shopping channels yet further, the e-tail giant will unveil a pop-up shop described as the UK’s inaugural “quick response (QR) code shopping emporium”.
Set to open between December 1st and December 5th 2011, traditionally the busiest period of the year for online shopping in the UK, the store in London’s West End will allow shoppers to scan QR codes with their smartphones to purchase Christmas gifts and other items.
Dubbed eBay’s Christmas Boutique, the store could set a precedent for other online businesses to follow and may lead to a more mainstream roll-out of these services next year.
It comes as department store group House of Fraser is planning to open its second dotcom store in Liverpool next week, having recently unveiled the same concept in Aberdeen. In a similar move to eBay, customers at these outlets cannot walk away with products but can use in-store IT to browse and order goods online.
The decision by these firms to open such stores shows how cross-channel shopping is becoming an increasingly important cog in the retail wheel, and also highlights the increasing popularity of purchasing good using mobile devices.
A recent study by the Centre for Retail Research, commissioned by online comparison site Kelkoo, suggested that 2011 will be the first mobile Christmas, with £1.64 billion worth of goods set to be ordered via smartphones and tablets in the UK during this festive season.
Meanwhile, online grocer Ocado trialled a similar concept to eBay’s at London’s One New Change shopping centre earlier this year. It displayed images of various products on a virtual wall, allowing passers by to order their shopping using QR technology.
The UK’s largest grocer Tesco has also experimented with QR code shopping platforms in South Korea, adding further credence to the theory that virtual stores are set to become a common feature of the retail landscape of the future.
In a statement today, eBay explained that it is hoping to take advantage of the busy online shopping weekend at the start of December.
“eBay predicts another record breaking ‘Super Sunday’ as 5.8 million shoppers are expected to log on to eBay.co.uk to shop,” it read.
“That’s 0.5 million more than last year, and equivalent to the entire population of Sheffield.
“Sales are forecast to peak at over 30 gifts every second, nearly double the 16 gifts per second bought last year via online and mobile platforms while up to 120 gifts will be bought via a smartphone every minute.”