eBay, scourge of the high street, arrives on the high street

Auction giant announces Click & Collect, eBay Now and a partnership with Argos
eBay Now

You know how you don’t buy anything in shops any more, and neither does anyone else?

Well, eBay is throwing a bone to the whimpering UK high street by giving people a reason to go there - to pick up stuff they’ve bought on eBay.

Any large merchant can now use Click & Collect, which allows you to just turn up and physically take hold of something you’ve bought, like people did in the 20th century. But smaller businesses can get in on the act too, thanks to a new scheme (currently being run as a trial) that allows buyers to pick up stuff they’ve bought on eBay in Argos stores.

eBargos? Argbay?

Click & Collect is growing faster than home delivery, and it’s easy to see why: it only takes half an hour to pop down to your local shops, whereas waiting in for a parcel takes all day, and the courier inevitably waits until you’re on the loo, slips a Sorry We Missed You card through the door and makes you pick it up from a depot on an industrial estate anyway.

At a press conference this morning Devin Wenig, President of eBay, described the partnership as signifying "the future of commerce", while John Walden, MD of Argos, explained that there is over 600 million square feet of retail space in the UK, with over 100 million square feet unused. Argos’s 740 stores and huge distribution network could help give eBay the edge over Amazon in terms of high-street shopper convenience. Walden did not mention the free pens that are many people’s real reason for going into Argos.  

There was no mention of extending the service to private sellers, which would make Argos shops into those confusing We Sell Your Stuff on eBay shops that sprung up in the early Noughties. You know, the ones that were full of people who wanted to buy the things in the window and didn’t understand that they had to go home and bid for them on eBay.

In addition to physical collection, eBay is also bringing eBay Now, its super-speedy local delivery service, to the UK. Again, it’s limited at first - London only for now - but the service pairs buyers with local sellers and offers delivery within an hour and not just just to your address, but to your device.

And no, your eBay stuff will not appear in the Argos Catalogue.