So, what to make of the news that eBay and Argos have decided to team up and offer customers the ability to order eBay goods online and collect them from an Argos store? The tie-up of these huge retailers is an exciting proposition, with both companies seeking to utilise each other’s points of strength to create a more well-rounded shopping experience. eBay will benefit from the vast network of physical Argos stores, whilst Argos will be able to leverage eBay’s expertise in online retail to boost its own online offering.

eBay are looking to humanise their shopping experience which until now has been almost completely online and offer their customers a physical point of contact when visiting an Argos store. The benefit of this is two-fold: eBay shoppers will not have to wait for their purchases to be delivered, and instead can collect them from an Argos store when convienient. This will surely be a welcome relief to those who have spent countless hours hanging around for the delivery man. Another weak point of online shopping currently is the inconvenience of returning unwanted goods. How many times have you kept something you bought just because it was too much hassle to send back and get a refund? Having a physical store will certainly make it easier to return items and for eBay to keep its customers happier.

And how will Argos benefit? The connection to the eBay brand will undoubtably add credibility to the Argos’ online offering, who themselves are operating successfully online but are traditionally seen as an offline, bricks-and-mortar retailer. The stream of eBay shoppers collecting their goods in-store will undoubtedly drive more potential customers into Argos stores too, who may previously have not considered shopping at Argos.

The key motivation of this venture for both companies stems from their competition with online behemoth Amazon. Both companies consider Amazon, albeit from slightly differing perspectives, as a serious competitor, and this joint venture could prove to be the first real challenge to Amazon’s dominance in the online space. By providing a physical point of difference and an opportunity to interact with consumers in the offline world, eBay and Argos can offer consumers a certain human interaction which Amazon currently does not. It certainly looks like in the case of the online shopping experience, two brands may well be better than one.

(Originally posted on The Value Engineers blog on September 26, 2013)