So, if you toddle off down Soho’s fashionable Dean Street in central London in the next several days, you’ll pass a shop that you probably never thought you’d see in real life. An eBay shop. No, really. It has second-hand stuff in it, and you pay using your smartphone. There are weird ideas, and then there’s this. And I think it’s pretty original.
“But I don’t have a smartphone!” you cry. No problem – HTC have provided the shop with tablet computers for you to use.
“But I don’t have an eBay/Paypal account!” Why? What century are you living in? I’ll admit there’s always going to be people who feel a little unsure about Paypal, but realistically one could argue they’re a damn sight more open to helping you than your bank is.
“But I don’t want second hand stuff!” Then don’t worry. There are plenty of shops with new things in. But if you’re looking for a great deal on something you might not be able to find new, then this is a good idea.
It’s not often I go all voluntarily gung-ho on promoting an idea that’s not mine, especially a corporate one, but I really like this – I walk in, use my phone, pick up my item, and walk out. There’s no messing around, I operate my own till, and I can finally see the eBay auction in person, which, if you buy expensive stuff from the online auction house, is pretty important.
But it proves that a great business on the internet is fully capable of actually making the 2011 transition in reverse – moving from the digital to the physical space. It’ll be interesting to see how this would work on a larger scale – if professional eBay sellers would “rent space” within the shop, or whether or not they’d remain on the high-street or aim for an IKEA-sized warehouse.
But is it worth it? One of the main reasons people like eBay is because of the sheer range of rare and cut-price goods to be found there, and all without leaving your house, or worse, actually visiting a flea market. Or even a shop. The horror.
It’s an idea that’s going to have to be test-run several times – this is by no means the first eBay shop in the UK, and this one only runs till the sixth of December (future people, it’s 2011 at the time of writing, so don’t send me hate mail if it’s not there just before the Mayan-predicted apocalypse next year). But if it goes well, we may just see a whole lot more of them. I’m totally up for it – what are your thoughts?