By Brianna Ahearn, contributing writer
eBay has explored partnerships with major brands such as Kate Spade, and now has a new feature for retailers. The auction and e-commerce company has increased the rollout of its new Retail Associate Platform, a tablet-based software unveiled in late 2013. Retail Associate Platform connects brands by giving them a way to connect the offline store with the online world. Using it, brands will be able to better engage with customers, and create a profile for each shopper. The retailers will then be able to look at the customers' shopping behavior for a complete picture of how to best approach the customer both in-store and online. eBay shared more about the Retail Associate Platform at the National Retail Federation and how it can help leverage information about consumers for more effective marketing and service.
The Retail Associate Platform lets retailers see what merchandise a customer has expressed interest in, but hasn't yet purchased; their online and in-store activity can be studied as well. This also allows retailers to send personalized recommendations related to the shopper's activities. The Platform can generate reports for store performance, inventory, and consumer purchase history. The moves eBay is making with brick and mortar retailers provides a benefit for both parties. The growing shift of retailers setting up online stores is in process for many big names, but the transition isn't always seamless. Having a third-party platform for a retailer allows them to streamline marrying the on and offline presence. For eBay, it's another way for them to pursue an omni-channel strategy, particularly on heels of the “Connected Fitting Room” with Nordstrom.
Currently Nine West is the middle of a rollout of the Retail Associate Platform to 10 of its stores throughout the country, including New York City and San Francisco. 1,500 stores total use the Retail Associate Platform, though eBay looks to increase that number. Nine West also uses the Endless Aisle application from eBay. The current performance of the platform for retailers has been positive, eBay said in their statement made on eBayEnterprise.com.
“The platform was built to level the playing field between associate and consumer through data, mobile technology and good, old-fashioned in-person customer service,” says David Geisinger, eBay's head of retail business strategy and innovation. “Traditionally, when a customer enters a store and doesn't buy, the retailer has no notion that the customer even exists.” Retailers who use the platform will be able to unlock a new world of information on customers, and improve the in-store shopping experience. Earlier, eBay published a whitepaper, “From Cashier to Concierge” and reported that 85% of retailers currently can't customize a store visit due to lack of customer information, and 76% of retailers didn't know when a specific customer was visiting their store.
“With the Retail Associate Platform, retailers can deliver customized shopping experiences that leverage intelligence about consumers’ habits and preferences to drive engagement and incremental sales,” says Craig Hayman, President of eBay Enterprise. “It’s a great example of how we are helping our clients scale and innovate at an unparalleled pace.”