Does the eBay/Kate Spade Pop-Up Represent Something New in Retailing?

May 16, 2013
Bernice Hurst

EBay and Kate Spade Saturday are launching a pop-up shop featuring a digital touch-screen storefront window in New York this summer. The project represents part of eBay’s reach beyond its internet offerings.

"Technology is blurring the lines between online and offline commerce and a ‘new retail’ environment is emerging," an eBay spokesperson told CNET News. "One example of how eBay is partnering with retailers to provide innovative technology solutions is the work we continue to do with the Kate Spade brands."

John Donahoe, eBay CEO, explained the significance of the investment in early April at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in New York. "The company has made a big push into mobile and has positioned itself as a sort of mission control for mobile, helping with the entire flow instead of just allowing people to shop and make payments."

Mr. Donahoe said eBay was "on track to see $20 billion in mobile commerce this year, based around people tapping on their devices to purchase goods through PayPal." He asserted that mobile is putting consumers in charge of retail by using multiple screens to make their purchases.

[Image: eBay pop-up]

This isn’t eBay’s first venture into pop-ups. Back in 2011, promising "no queues, no bags, no stress," customers scanned quick response (QR) codes on price tags in a London West End pop-up store, paid through eBay and waited for purchases to be delivered to their homes, according to The Guardian. Products consisted of eBay’s "200 bestsellers, which range from House of Fraser party frocks to toys from The Entertainer." Another in New York also opened that year.

TechCrunch reported on Mr. Donahoe’s determination to position eBay "where retailers are still doing the majority of their transactions, offline." Established relationships between both eBay and PayPal with bricks and mortar retailers make this a logical next step.

TechCrunch described the life-size touch-screen in the Kate Spade pop-up as "complementing eBay’s bread and butter business … the company’s way of ensuring that it will continue to remain relevant in a world where offline commerce, but also new technologies, battle for consumers’ wallets."

What do you think of eBay’s partnership with a bricks and mortar retailer as yet another way of connecting with consumers? Does the pop-up shop with lifesize touch-screen represent a “new retail environment” as claimed by eBay?

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7 Comments on "Does the eBay/Kate Spade Pop-Up Represent Something New in Retailing?"

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Adrian Weidmann
7 years 5 months ago

Bringing the mobile shopping AND payment expertise of eBay together with traditional brick & mortar retailers is a ‘win-win-win-and win’ combination. The brands, retailers, eBay, and most importantly, the shoppers win.

Bringing together best practices and the familiarity and trust of eBay for mobile payments will benefit all. The life-size touch-screen is a bit of a novelty but will certainly draw attention as part of the overall experience. As smartphones become more and more ubiquitous, the touch-screen of choice will be each person’s private device. This collaboration is not a passing fad and we will be seeing more-and more of these types of hybrid shopping environments.

Ken Lonyai
7 years 5 months ago

No. This is not a “new retail environment.” It’s been done in other variations already, especially through storefront touch screen installations like the one last year in the meat packing district for sundry items (brand escapes me).

I see this particular foray as a move to gather attention, control the spin, and make a statement more than it is a sustainable model—just as most pop-up stores are.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
7 years 5 months ago

Location, location, location is still important. Now, however, when the best location changes retailers and manufacturers can be flexible about being there without a major real estate investment. Is this new? No. Many retailers have been experimenting with pop-up stores. There have also been experiments with digital stores such as the Tesco stores in South Korea. Technology is providing more flexibility.

Lee Kent
7 years 5 months ago

I too believe this is a win-win for all parties. eBay brings a level of confidence with the strength of PayPal, so consumers will feel the environment is secure.

The idea of extending the shelf through pop-up stores is not new, but it is always interesting to see brands add their own twist to attract attention. This one has some wow to it!

John Boccuzzi, Jr.
John Boccuzzi, Jr.
7 years 5 months ago
I have been looking at this blurring of online and brick and mortar over the last two years and it is exciting to see that retailers are beginning to understand the value and have the technology to implement. Consumers love to shop online for convenience, but it is hard to replicate that feeling of browsing and actually touching, holding, and smelling merchandise. This blur allows the best of both worlds. What I really love is the opportunity to improve OOS and over inventoried items. Low hanging fruit retailers would include anyone selling sized items (shoes and clothing), electronics where people want to hear the speakers before they buy, edible items including gift baskets. How great would it be to try the items in a gift basket before you gave it as a gift? A less likely fit are very large or bulky items where the cost of shipping would outweigh the convenience. I love the pop-up concept for the simple reason that consumers know they need to make a decision now, because tomorrow it will… Read more »
Cathy Hotka
7 years 5 months ago

Wait…you can feel the bag, but you have to order it online?

Nobody’s yet figured out a sustainable model for this kind of showroom-only model. There will certainly be learnings that come out of this, but don’t expect this kind of thing to become the norm any time soon.

Karen S. Herman
7 years 5 months ago

Kate Spade is executing dynamic marketing strategies with its Saturday brand and this NYC pop-up shop in partnership with eBay and featuring a digital touch-screen storefront window is indicative of where retail is headed. Another recent concept launch by Kate Spade is the Saturday flagship store in Japan that was developed with Control Group, a digital strategy firm. In this store, physical signage was replaced by iPads providing digital signage and a very interesting smart technology platform was incorporated. Both moves by the brand are cost effective and utilize technology in ways that are adaptive to customers as well as all levels of staff, from local store personnel to corporate management.

A new retail environment does exist and retailers who embrace technology and offer consumers innovative and interesting ways to engage with their products, both online and offline, will gain customers as well as fans, followers, and tweets.


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