eBay launch instore Retail Associate Platform

eBay have launched a new service for high street retailers in the US – the Retail Associate Platform – essentially an expansion of the capabilities of the PayPal Check In App.

The new Retail Associate Platform is the high tech equivalent of the traditional sales assistant’s little black book (or in old fashioned terms a personal relationship with your customer!) and can be a game changer for retailers by bringing web grade analytics to the physical world, engaging consumers in a personalized way and increasing value of an order.

The app works on a tablet so sales assistants can carry it with them and if a customer checks in with PayPal then the sales assistant will be able to see the customers name and photo, what they’ve previously purchased, possibly items the customer has browsed online as well as the size clothing they buy and possibly even their favourite colours.

Retailers will have visibility of their stock, not just for the local store but potentially stock available in other nearby branches or stock that can be transferred from other stores if they’re out of a particular size or colour.

I love clothes shopping, but only when there’s a decent sales assistant who knows the stock in their store and can make recommendations and basically do the shopping for me. More often I take friends shopping with me and let them scour the shop for clothes as a) they’re girls and they love shopping and b) they’re much better at finding a bargain and sticking within an allotted budget than I am.

When the Retail Associate Platform comes to the UK it should do the same job as my friends, the app will know my style and size and give the shop assistants the same ability to assist as if they knew me well.

Interestingly the launch of the new Retail Associate Platform is yet another sign that eBay don’t want to compete with the high street and but want to work with offline retailers. Sure they want to grab a slice of the business and if the app encourages people like me to Check In with a PayPal or eBay app then I’ll probably pay with PayPal.

eBay would in the future potentially be able to link my eBay shopping history with my offline purchases and with a bit of luck in a few years time eBay’s recommendation engine will have enough data that they’ll stop suggesting I buy hoodies and start suggesting casual shirts and chinos in my size and favourite colours and that really might tempt me to make a purchase.