E-commerce giant eBay (EBAY) is taking window shopping to the next level -- by letting you buy stuff online from the window itself.
Reuters reports that eBay has started installing giant touch screens on the storefronts of vacant retail properties. Passers-by will be able to browse items from retailer Fifth & Pacific and then make a purchase directly from the screen. The goods can then be delivered within an hour, and you'll be able to pay the courier with PayPal.
The first four screens will be in New York City, and will sell a limited number of items from Fifth & Pacific's (FNP) Kate Spade Saturday collection. New Yorkers will be able to find the screens in neighborhoods including SoHo and the Lower East Side from June 7 to July 8.
For Fifth & Pacific (which until about a year ago was called Liz Claiborne), it's a great way to establish a physical presence for a new brand without making a big real estate investment or signing a lengthy lease for a storefront. It's also good news for neighborhoods -- vacant storefronts can now be transformed from eyesores into something attractive and functional during times when landlords are having trouble finding retail tenants.
Whether consumers will use the service is another question. Online shopping has always involved a tradeoff between convenience and experience -- you can't try on the clothes or test out the electronics, but you can at least make the purchases from the convenience of your couch. Putting the online retail experience into a store window is a cool way of bridging the gap between online and offline, but it also means you get none of the in-store experience and none of the shop-at-home convenience. A shopper who is already out and about in a retail-heavy neighborhood may be less inclined to buy from a giant screen if she can easily walk into a store and try on the clothes she's considering.
Matt Brownell is the consumer and retail reporter for DailyFinance. You can reach him at Matt.Brownell@teamaol.com, and follow him on Twitter at @Brownellorama.
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EBay Introduces a Clever New Twist on Window Shopping
When it comes to your safety, you should never shop secondhand. Minor scratches or dings in helmets that you might be unable to spot right away can cause their safety rating to fall.
Cribs can stand a lot of abuse from cranky toddlers, but you want to make sure your children aren't put in danger by a potentially damaged bed. According to The New York Times, issues with unsafe cribs led to 150 deaths between 2007 and 2010.
Buying tip:Squidoo recently put together a list of the top ten baby cribs for 2013.
Any small defect in a secondhand laptop will only get exacerbated over time. You also don't have the luxury of a warranty or customer service guarantee if you don't buy it new yourself.
Buying tip: If you are looking to buy something on the cheaper side, most retailers offer refurbished products that are still covered by warranties. And major electronics stores like Best Buy offer steep discounts on display models. Call around to ask beforehand.
Many websites advise against buying shoes used because they've probably already been formed to the foot of the person who wore them before you. Especially with running shoes, this could lead to discomfort or injuries.
Buying tip:Duke Health recommends taking a good look at the sole and arch of your next pair of athletic shoes to make sure you get the best fit.
Blenders require their blades to be super sharp to be functioning at their best. If you buy one secondhand, it might take longer for the duller parts to puree the berries and bananas going into your smoothie.
Besides the hygiene issues that come with a secondhand swimsuit, these garments tend to wear out very quickly. Your bikini won't do a good job covering you up if it starts to get saggy the first time it's hit by a wave.
Buying tip: If you're looking to invest in a bathing suit that won't go out of style in one season, look at style guides like these to help you make a wise purchase.
Wet suits need to fit well and they often wear out over time, making them less likely to keep you warm underwater. The suits aren't cheap, but don't risk getting chilly on your next scuba trip with a used one.
Vacuums are one of the most-used appliances and they don't last forever. If you need something that still has the suction power to clean the dust around your whole house, it might be best to buy a new one yourself.
Buying tip: If you do want to save money by buying used, make sure you test it beforehand and follow these other tips, too.
Software usually only has codes to be used on a limited number of computers, and there's a chance you could get ripped off if you buy a used copy. It's best to buy straight from the manufacturer to make sure you get a working version.