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eBay Supports the Move from Online to the Physical World

More online-only retailers are moving to the offline world with brick-and-mortar stores, and eBay subsidiaries are poised to capitalize on the trend toward “omnichannel” retail.

For the past dozen years, traditional retailers have been expanding online, building online storefronts and selling on eBay and Amazon. The largest retailers – Walmart and Sears, for example – have even morphed their own online storefronts into marketplaces, welcoming smaller merchants to sell on their sites.

Now online-only brands such as Warby Parker, Bonobos and Nasty Gal are opening retail stores, and some companies are trying to make it easier for smaller merchants to expand into the physical world.

First up, storefront-builder/marketplace Storenvy. When merchants list something in their online Storenvy Store, it is automatically added to the online Storenvy Marketplace “where shoppers can discover, share, and buy it without ever visiting your store.”

Last year, Storenvy opened a brick-and-mortar pop-up shop in San Francisco featuring a rotating selection of items from local Storenvy merchants.

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The company is celebrating its one-year anniversary by including offline shopping features that match its Storenvy.com counterparts including Featured Collections and Featured Brands. “Now, with products and brands curated for the pop-up from Storenvy’s over three million products from over 75,000 brands, the pop-up will truly represent the Storenvy experience,” the company announced this week – see Storenvy.com/popup.

And then there is the UK’s BoxPark, which calls itself “the world’s first pop up mall.” BoxPark opened two floors of sixty shipping containers – yes, that reads shipping containers – in the heart of East London’s fashion and art district, “bursting with innovative designers, authentic food shops and talented artists and performers.” The shopping mall is constructed of stripped and refitted shipping containers, the inspiration for its name.

According to its brochure, “Because its basic building blocks are inherently movable, they can, and will, literally pop up anywhere in the world.”

BoxPark offers retailers a 20% commission-only fee structure that includes a 300 sq. ft. storefront on a 1-, 3- or 12-month basis – and, inevitably, an ecommerce store on the BoxPark Marketplace.

eBay’s ecommerce unit Magento and payments-processing unit PayPal have partnered with BoxPark “to offer a seamless omnichannel commerce experience for retailers and consumers.” eBay issued a press announcement on Tuesday, writing:

“BoxPark Marketplace expands on the existing Shoreditch pop up mall to include an integrated iPad POS system, online market place for brands, and mobile application enabling retailers to engage consumers across multiple points and increase BoxPark inventory to online and mobile audiences via a Magento-powered storefront. PayPal will power the initiative’s transactions through cashless transactions, both online and offline, for BOXPARK customers.”

Roger Wade, the CEO of BoxPark, said small independent retailers have been unable to offer costly multichannel solutions, but now, “they just need an iPad or tablet and they are up and running.” But don’t get the wrong idea – many of the brands listed on the BoxPark site are heavyweights.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.