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eBay is opening a pop-up shop near London's Oxford Street, based entirely around instant purchasing via QR codes.

Located on Dean Street, it will be open for five days from December 1st, won’t have any tills and will have only 200 items on display.

To make a purchase, customers will be asked to scan a product's QR code using a smartphone, which will in turn direct them to the payment section of the eBay website.

eBay has partnered with HTC to provide 'loaner' handsets to those visiting the shop without a smartphone, and there will be eight tablets on hand to give customers access to eBay's other products.

“We are opening the store to cover the 'Super Sunday’ weekend at the beginning of December, which traditionally sees the most number of people shopping online,’ said Laura Williamson, eBay’s head of consumer PR.

Williamson said that the company expects to see more than 5m visitors to its website on Sunday December 4th, and sell up to 30 gifts a minute.

The real reason for creating this pop-up isn't entirely clear (it's not the first time the company has done this as you can see above). But it's certainly a good PR stunt, and it’s safe to assume that eBay wants to reinforce the fact that the site should be a destination for Christmas shopping. Especially since the total amount spent online last Christmas by UK shoppers is estimated at £2.8bn.

However, statistics from earlier this year showed that in a survey of 1,500 UK consumers conducted online using TolunaQuick, 31% knew what QR codes were or what they are for, and 19% had scanned one on their mobiles - marginally more than the US (64% couldn't identify a QR code).

We all know that awareness is still low, but when QR codes are used creatively, they can produce fantastic results. When Tesco used posters of supermarket shelves complete with QR codes in Korea, the result was that more than 10,000 people scanned the QR codes, new customer registrations rose by 76%, and online sales were up by 130%.

It'll be interesting to see how this plays out for eBay; this pop-up is in a prime location, at a busy time of year - but unlike Tesco, eBay is an online retailer in the first place. Time will tell.

David Moth

Published 17 November, 2011 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

1687 more posts from this author

Comments (12)

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James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Thanks for the post David.

I really like this idea. I'm sure some people will think it stuff and nonsense but if you don't try to innovate, you never learn what might work. The research shows that QR code adoption is increasing and there are some good examples in multi-channel such as Tesco Homeplus in South Korea (Chris Lake blogged about this in his Econsultancy multi-channel article).

And this is a new idea for the UK (as far as I know). Given the insatiable desire of people do constantly do something with their mobile, I can see this proving popular for footfall. Whether or not it drives revenue is another thing but they couldn't pick a better conversion time at Christmas.

Please update this blog as and when results are PRd.


almost 5 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

Hi James,

I've seen some unimaginative - and poorly executed -uses of QR but this is a good idea, and a great way for an online brand to get into the high street.

I noticed earlier today that HMV is using QR codes to entice people to buy DVDs at bus stops, which also seems a good use of QR.


almost 5 years ago

Conrad Morris

Conrad Morris, Director at Match Me Now Limited

I really like this idea as well. There's no doubt that PR is a big part of this, but there's nothing wrong with that and it is also innovative and could really help the use of QR codes to "grow up".

almost 5 years ago

Hazel Butters

Hazel Butters, CEO at Prompt Communications Ltd

Perhaps eBay hasn’t revealed any solid reason for launching this retail pop-up because its impact as great PR is reason enough. The brand is already receiving excellent coverage in the London and national mainstream and trade press, online and off. It all goes to show that it doesn’t matter how established and gargantuan your brand already is, a blast of innovative brand buzz can still pay off. I remember eConsultancy revealing 44% of the British population spending more online last Christmas, hiking that total spend up to the £2.8 billion mark. But it also pointed out that 45% of those who did shop online encountered problems, with 32% abandoning their carts as a result. Perhaps the key to squeezing a few hundred million more out of Brits this year is to bolster their confidence by showing them a (fleeting) bricks ‘n’ mortar shop front to strengthen confidence in those online stores? The pop-up might also serve as a timely reminder that there are shopping opportunities away from the nightmare they’re experiencing on Oxford Street, and that they can go and relax over a few drink s and grab their last few gifts online at home with their feet up…

almost 5 years ago


Kudos Web Design

Wow, I wish I was in London when this opens, I'd love to take a look around. Interesting idea but it's definitely got to be a PR stunt probably to increase the popularity of QR codes.

almost 5 years ago


Depesh Mandalia, Head of Digital Marketing at Lost My Name

The concept of pop-up shops is certain to grow with QR codes - its also a great PR opportunity for ebay. Would love to see stats on usage

almost 5 years ago

Adam Candlish

Adam Candlish, Commercial Director at DataIQ

@Hazel - you raise an interesting point about online/offline in this situation.

If someone goes into the eBay pop up shop and purchases through the use of a QR code, how does this get attributed?

Technically the transaction is on a mobile device but there would be cost associations with the pop up store that would not exist through a "standard" mobile or web transaction that was not as a result of the pop store.

Then the argument of would the customer have purchased this product from eBay at all had the pop up store not been there?

I'm sure that if the product was there physically the customer would prefer to take it with them there and then (assuming it wasn't hug like a fridge or washing machine) rather than wait for delivery.

Lot's of questions around this and I suppose eBay will have this aligned internally.

That aside, this is a great idea shows innovation and opportunism to do it at this time of year. I think there are still concerns with consumers around purchasing through mobile devices so hopefully this will help show a sample that mobile commerce can be quick, easy and safe.

almost 5 years ago



The reason QR codes did so well in Korea is because phones come with the technology built in (no download needed) and the technology has reached mass market penetration. Not the case in the UK. Using QR codes on their own makes for a poor execution!

Will be interesting to see what kind of take up this store gets though.

almost 5 years ago

Eoin Kenneally

Eoin Kenneally, Ecommerce Consultant at Consultant

The company I work for will be included in some of the items on display, I think its an interesting concept and a nice way to introduce people to shopping on eBay.

almost 5 years ago

Adam Candlish

Adam Candlish, Commercial Director at DataIQ

@Eoin - whatever the outcome this would make a great case study. Do try and share some of the results! ;)

almost 5 years ago


sarah hughes

Bring it on! This is shopping of the future: no need to cart heavy bags around and no need to go near a till. I can't wait to see it in stores like John Lewis. And if you're shopping in any of the Aurora brands (Coast, Karen Millen, Oasis and Warehouse), your new outfit could be home in less than 90 minutes, probably before you are.

almost 5 years ago


logo design poole

Good PR stunt, just a shame that company's like ebay are killing the high street stores.

about 4 years ago

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