Online auction giant eBay is to open its first store in London's West End for a five-day shopping period towards Christmas next month.
But while there will be no over-the-counter purchases, shoppers will be able to browse through a vast array of products in store and purchase items using the eBay smartphone application. Items bought will then be delivered to their homes within a few days.
If you have a QR-reading smartphone, you will be able to scan a tag and have your phone take you to where you need to be in the online store. If not, eBay has partnered with HTC to lend you a smartphone whilst you are in store -- acting as your personal shopping list.
Instead of tills and cashiers, tablets will be used to offer the full eBay shopping experience to customers who wish to browse the site anyhow.
The experimental store will be open only for a few days, as part of the auction giant's bid to move towards the mainstream British 'high street'.
This is not the first attempt for online retail giants to persuade their customers into visiting real city stores.
House of Fraser, another popular UK chain of stores, opened a bare-store in Aberdeen, Scotland where nothing but an array of free computers, some shopping staff assistants and free coffee were on display, for customers to buy clothes and products from their website.
These 'multi-channel' stores have been criticised by industry insiders, but nevertheless offer a weight off the distribution shoulders of retailers, by allowing customers to pick up items in-store, but also to their websites which offer a vast array of advert-supporting content.
The eBay store will be on Dean Street, a famous Soho-street wedged between Carnaby Street and shopping-central Oxford Street. Open between December 1st to December 5th, it will be open during London's busiest shopping period.
An eBay spokesperson declined to comment whether this 'experimental' store would be part of a wider U.S. rollout of main street stores.