eBay to harness bricks and mortar to grow online retail

eBay is working with Argos to provide merchants that use its online platform with a local pick-up point for UK shoppers

Online marketplace eBay is working with Argos to enable merchants that use its online platform to offer a local pick-up point for UK shoppers.

A total of 50 eBay merchants are involved in the pilot of a system to fulfil "click and collect" orders through 150 UK Argos outlets. Argos has 750 outlets in total.

The service is for merchants that do not have physical sites for customers to collect their online purchases from. This is in reaction to increased demand for click and collect services, as many customers find it more convenient than having goods delivered. Customers benefit from no delivery charges and flexible pick-up times.

Devin Wenig, president at eBay, said click and collect is growing at a fast rate. “We think this will surpass home delivery in terms of share of total online sales,” he said.

According to Econsultancy's Online Shopping Survey, 40% of UK shoppers used some form of click and collect service over the Christmas period in 2012. 

According to IMRG research, click and collect accounts for 5% of online sales. 

Argos started providing a click and collect service in 2000, and it now accounts for one-third of the retailer's sales.

Wenig said there is a blurring of the lines between offline and online shopping, and eBay wants to ensure it caters for the demands of shoppers. He referred to the “new eBay” and said the company is transforming itself to meet customer demand. 

Recent introductions at eBay include a guarantee for customers that will get their money back if products do not arrive, as well as a 14-day return policy where customers can return goods in that period and get a refund. Its "eBay Now" same-day delivery service will become available in the UK early next year.

Amazon, which is synonymous with online retail, also has a click and collect service, known as Amazon Locker Delivery.

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