While internet shopping has brought about untold convenience to masses of consumers, it’s also dented the need for people to march down to the shops to get their hands on goods. Indeed, 2018 saw a long string of closures, with stores from Marks & Spencer to Mothercare at risk. Even longstanding nostalgia-inducing haunt Toys R Us was shuttered. However, it seems that eBay, of all companies, still believes in the high street.
The titan of online shopping has opened up its first concept store in the UK, a pop-up site that’s situated in Wolverhampton for one month. The marketing move is part of its Retail Revival programme, a one-year scheme that works with 64 small businesses to demonstrate how online and physical retail can work together, seemingly without cannibalising one another.
eBay’s venue will be something of an experiment, with the store to house 40 small businesses from the local area. QR codes will be used to process payments – who uses cash, right? – and the e-commerce firm will analyse all of the sales and traffic data that comes alongside it.
The Midlands city of Wolverhampton was chosen as the host location following research that revealed 25% of small UK retailers have no online presence to generate sales. Meanwhile, the store has a theme that will showcase what the area represents. The idea behind this is to demonstrate the importance of identity for homegrown businesses and how they can capitalise on the communities in which they operate. Among the companies to work at the eBay venue are food hamper provider Tony’s Deli and window blind supplier HomeSmart Blinds.
Commenting on the launch, Rob Hattrell, vice president of eBay in the UK, said: “The small retailers taking part in Wolverhampton’s Retail Revival have already shown that physical and online retail can survive – and thrive – together. They have achieved more than £2m in sales as of March and many have employed more staff as a direct result of the partnership.
“This pop-up store aims to take that growth and the value of this programme to the next level. It will explore how stores of the future could combine technology with that vital human connection to powerful effect – whatever the size of the business.”
With initiatives like this, it may be a case that all retailers can learn how to make the most of a physical and online presence, not just the little ones.