So you know the first rule of commerce (whether e-commerce or traditional retail): If it has a universal product code, Amazon will kill you. But what then? Ebay has provided us with a vision of the future of commerce, with a distinctly social flavour with its seasonal pop-up store in London’s Covent Garden in the West End.

Housed in a container box (a la BoxPark - the world’s first pop-up mall) that has temporarily landed in the busy Covent Garden shopping area (strategically next to the Apple Store), the eBay pop-up social commerce store is best described as a “dynamic virtual store“. It combines the new trend in virtual stores (no products,  just images of products projected or postered onto walls – each with scannable buy codes) and Amazon-style recommendations based on what’s popular now – brought in from social network chatter.  The result is a dynamic virtual store showing and selling popular seasonal gifts to smartphone wielding consumers.

Additional eye-candy is offered through augmented reality, point your smartphone at an image, and see a 3D overlay of the product. And polish your halo with extra info on how eBay purchases have a social conscience – your eBay purchases help the social enterprise give back to the community.

In truth, the eBay pop-up store works more as a concept and vision – rather than efficient shopping tool (it required an additional app download triggered by the eBay app, that stubbornly refused to download).  But we like it because it outlines what an Amazon-proof retail strategy of the future could look like

  • Event based – opportunistic, temporary pop-up around a popular shopping/calendar event
  • Experiential – re-imagines sensorial shopping in a fun interactive way with technology consumers know and love
  • Efficient – or ‘asset-light‘ in Mary Meeker Speak – low cost retail solution that bridges the artificial online/offline shopping divide
Of course, it’s missing the other big E of Amazon-proof retail. Exclusives.  But add ‘not-available-on-Amazon’ exclusives into the mix, and the eBay’s dynamic virtual pop-up store starts to look Amazon-proof. Maybe it’s time to love eBay again?
Social Virtual Stores – the Future of Social Commerce? (Dynamic Product Displays + Pop-up Retail)