Buy on eBay, pick up in store. That’s what U.K. consumers will soon be able to do when they order from 50 eBay merchants as part of a trial between the marketplace and U.K. general merchandise retailer Argos. Consumers who make a purchase from a participating eBay merchant can choose to pick up their orders from around 150 Argos stores across the U.K.
The deal is the latest in a string of moves by eBay to expand its online presence to the offline world by partnering with bricks-and-mortar stores. EBay’s eBay Now delivery service in the U.S. enables shoppers to order goods via a P.C. or mobile app and get items delivered to their doors by eBay couriers in about an hour. Participating retailers include Best Buy Co. Inc. No. 10 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, Macy’s Inc. (No. 12) and Target Corp. (No. 18). The service, still in testing, is available in San Francisco, San Jose, the larger Bay Area Peninsula area, parts of New York City, Brooklyn and Queens. Chicago and Dallas will be added later this year, eBay says. Other store-based initiatives include a Russian daily deal app that offers coupons for goods and services that consumers can redeem in Moscow stores and the acquisition of Milo, which shows consumers products available in local stores.
An eBay spokesman says items available for collection at Argos will be identified in search results and within eBay listings. EBay wouldn’t comment any further on the trial, but said it will soon release details on shipping logistics, the program’s launch date and the participating merchants. EBay wouldn’t and does not plan to disclose fees or other financial details of the trial.
EBay says there is growing demand for order online, pick up in store in the U.K. 40% of U.K. shoppers used some form of the service, coined Click & Collect in the U.K., during the 2012 holiday shopping season, according to an online shopping survey from market research firm Econsultancy.
“The distinction between offline and online shopping continues to blur,” says Devin Wenig, president of eBay Marketplaces. “Traditional retail isn’t going away, it is transforming. Smart retailers are innovating, reimagining the store and what it means to shop.”
As part of the announcement, eBay also said all U.K. retailers that sell on eBay and operate physical stores that offer Click & Collect through their own e-commerce sites will be able to offer that option through their eBay stores as well by the end of the year.
Argos was one of the first major retailers in the U.K. to offer Click & Collect, launching the service in 2000. The service now accounts for around one-third of the retailer’s total sales, says John Walden, managing director for Argos. In 2010, Argos launched same-day and one-hour delivery of web orders via London-based delivery company Shutl, which uses local couriers to deliver goods from retail stores. The service is available to about half of the retailer’s customers, mostly those living within 10 miles of a store.
EBay has more than 18 million active users in the U.K. Active users are those who have listed or bought on eBay in the previous 12 months. Around 70% of its U.K. listings are for new, fixed-price items.
Argos attracts 635 million visits to its site and app annually. It operates 735 stores across the U.K. For its fiscal year ending in February its sales totaled 3.9 billion pounds (US $6.29 billion). Argos is part of Home Retail Group, a U.K.-based home and general merchandise retailer that is No. 4 in the Internet Retailer Europe 500. According to Internet Retailer Europe 500 estimates, 2012 online sales for Home Retail Group, which also operates Homebase.co.uk, totaled 2.55 billion pounds ( US $4.11 billion).