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Retail Experiences Are Getting a Tech Makeover

Thanks to new technology, the future of e-commerce may be offline … and in physical stores.

For eBay, every part of a retail experience is a business opportunity. It’s not just about what happens online, says John Donahoe, CEO of the online marketplace.

“In the eyes of the consumer, e-commerce and retail are now one. It’s just shopping, right?” he said in a recent interview with Bloomberg Businessweek.

Consequently, eBay has partnered with offline stores like Kate Spade to develop shoppable windows and has also launched a one-hour delivery service.

“You buy online, but you get it delivered to you from an offline store,” he said.

What’s more, utilizing a mobile-to-mobile delivery model has enabled eBay to go a step further. “You’re actually delivering right to a mobile device, so you don’t miss where the recipient is. If the recipient walks across the street, the delivery person knows exactly where they are.”

The Future of E-commerce

Donahoe foresees the use of such technology playing a larger role in how people shop in their “offline existence”–whether it’s finding the information on the product within the store or “checking-in” on their way to receive a more personalized service once they arrive.

“The way we’re thinking about the offline world is, what are consumer pain points? No one likes standing in lines. Whether you’re at a Jamba Juice or a coffee shop, if you can order ahead or order when you walk in the store, pay and go around the line–the merchants like that, and consumers like that,” he told Bloomberg Businessweek.

Alexis Maybank, co-founder of Gilt Groupe, agrees with Donahoe that traditional retail is changing, with more shifting online every year. However, the trend can go in the opposite direction as well, she told Inc. She sees something like a pop-up shop as less the future of retail and “more of a marketing initiative.”

“I think the pop-up shop is an interesting phenomenon,” Maybank said. “But what it shows is that eBay and other business that exist purely online, they’re trying to create seasonal destinations where customers can come in and more intimately experience that brand, that business.”

According to Maybank, the trick is to build out that relationship so that the company can “convince them to come shop with you online, and on the mobile device, wherever it might be.”


    

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