EBay is now the latest entrant into the field of retail experimenters that are trialing the concept of a “virtual store.” 

EBay joins Occado and Tesco in embracing the increasing number of Multidevice Buyers in the UK who use their smartphones not only to inform their offline shopping journeys, but to buy products as well. EBay’s pop-up store in the heart of London promises to allow shoppers to browse products in person and purchase via a QR-code-driven mobile shopping experience. 

While eBay's store is very deliberately designed as a temporary pop-up, others are approaching the same challenge in a completely different way. House of Fraser recently launched a concept store in Aberdeen that carries no stock but offers shoppers the opportunity to sip a free cappuccino while they browse House of Fraser’s website on dedicated Internet stations.   

Experiments with store formats are on the rise, and with the UK leading the way in Europe in terms of the number of Multidevice Buyers and Digital Shoppers, these experiments won’t just be for Christmas but will become an increasingly common site as retailers begin to try and work out how to bridge the digital/physical divide. The longevity of any one model is questionable, but they are a positive sign that leading retailers are beginning to embrace one of the key tenants of Agile Commerce – that shoppers don’t think of them as a set of distinct channels, but think of them as a joined up brand and increasingly expect to be able to transact wherever and however they want, engaging with multiple touchpoints in a single transaction.