This Holiday Season, Amazon and eBay Turn to Tactics Both Rudimentary and High Tech

Sony digital storefront with eBay

This year’s shorter holiday shopping season, about six days fewer than usual between Thanksgiving and Christmas, might be alternative retail’s opportunity to shine.  For the potentially harried shopper, retail experts are envisioning a stronger reliance on mobile apps, e-commerce, and seamless m-commerce.  In particular, the two behemoths of the holiday season (and the rest of the year, too), Amazon and eBay, are gearing up in a multitude of ways to accommodate consumers across the in-store and digital spectra.

For Amazon, expectations are resting on something decidedly unglamorous: shipping.  The site is banking on faster delivery and Sunday mail, a deal negotiated with the U.S. postal service.  The latter is just for Amazon Prime members, so think about signing up, if you haven’t previously been moved by the program’s benefits.  Amazon is also looking to capture the show-rooming audience glued to their smartphones with an app dedicated to streamlining the process. The Amazon Price Check app makes it easy for shoppers to compare prices and then gives them a discount if they use the app to buy the item in question.

Meanwhile, eBay is using similar tactics, expanding both eBay now, which offers same-day delivery, and its click and pick-up options.  The company is also moving into the realm of digital but real-world shopping, partnering with designers like Rebecca Minkoff, TOMS, and Sony (seen above) on a pilot program with Westfield Labs, at Westfield Mall in San Francisco.  The site and the brands partnered on digital storefronts, which passers-by can shop via their mobile phones.  It’s a continuation of eBay’s first foray into this sort of thing, which culminated in four downtown New York virtual Kate Spade Saturday stores.  Depending on how the program fares this season, might be expanded to more of the country.

Part of the reason the efforts from eBay and Amazon are so notable is that where these two go, everyone else follows.  Last year, eBay’s spike in mobile sales was big news; now it’s the norm for everyone.  If that trend continues, maybe next year we’ll see our cities peppered with digital, shoppable displays, with goods being shipped and delivered in an instant.


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