Ebay Links With Argos Store Chain in U.K. Click-and-Collect Test

Ebay Inc. and Home Retail Group Plc’s Argos chain announced a tie-up so shoppers at the world’s biggest online marketplace can collect their goods from 150 Argos stores around the U.K.

The trial, involving 50 Ebay merchants, will initially run for six months, Home Retail said today in a statement.

The partnership rivals Amazon.com Inc.’s locker delivery service, where customers can order online and then pick up their parcel from secure passcode-protected lockers situated in local shops or other venues. Click and collect is one of the U.K.’s fastest-growing purchasing methods as more people shop online.

The partnership between Ebay and Argos “is clearly being driven by the irreversible trend of increasing consumer demand for convergence in online and store-based retail shopping environments,” Scott Dacko, associate professor of marketing and strategic management at Warwick Business School, said in an e-mail. “It is  likely to be a win-win arrangement, with both partners and U.K. consumers benefiting all round.”

Milton Keynes, England-based Home Retail, which said it introduced the click-and-collect concept in the U.K. in 2000, is seeking to attract more customers and boost sales at its Argos stores. The tie-up with San Jose, California-based Ebay isn’t expected to “materially impact” Home Retail’s financial performance in the current fiscal year, it said.

“It’s certainly an interesting concept and will help drive footfall to the Argos stores,” said Robert Evans, an analyst at Espirito Santo in London. “I don’t think it will be a game changer for Home Retail though.”

Home Retail declined to comment on whether Ebay will pay for the service and which stores will participate in the trial.

Ebay already takes part in the Collect+ service in the U.K., where customers can collect their parcel at one of more than 5,000 local stores.

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