advertisement
advertisement

Can Ebay Pull Off A Giant Touch Window For New York Shoppers?

Written by Frank Hayes
May 6th, 2013

Ebay (NASDAQ:EBAY) and retailer Kate Spade are doing something this summer that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago: creating a pop-up store in New York that will feature a gigantic touchscreen store window. Let’s be clear—what would have been unthinkable would be a relatively small (82-store) apparel chain taking on something this technically aggressive, even with a partner as big as eBay to help foot the bill.

Leaving aside all the obvious unanswered questions—from “how do you physically protect a giant touchscreen?” to “how much of an exhibitionist does a customer have to be to browse a web catalog that’s taller than she is, right out in public?”—it’s a testament to how inexpensive and physically tough this kind of technology has become that it’s viewed as practical. Of course, that all assumes that the chain and eBay will actually get it to work as advertised.

The project was revealed by eBay CEO John Donahoe, speaking at a conference on April 30. Donahoe didn’t give many details about the pop-up store, but he described the concept. “Here in New York, later on this summer, one of the retailers we’re working with is going to do pop-up stores with a storefront in which the store window is a touchscreen, so both during the day and at night you can shop and you can engage with their inventory,” he said. TechCrunch later learnedthat the retailer was Kate Spade on Saturday.

That fits in with Donahoe’s notion of shopping that’s tied in with a whole collection of screens, ranging from smartphones to tablets and PCs to TVs and in-store displays. The idea of a giant touchscreen isn’t new, but the definition of “giant” has changed just in the past several years, from a 42-inch touchscreen embedded in a seven-foot-tall kioskat JCPenney (NYSE:JCP) in 2011 to entire shop windows today.

Of course, it’s easy to announce a concept (just ask any player in mobile payments). The devil is in the details, or more accurately, in those as-yet-unanswered questions.

How willeBay (we have to assume this will be primarily eBay’s role) protect the publicly accessible touchscreen front window from abuse? That doesn’t just mean the risk of some New Yorker tossing a brick through a very expensive touchscreen—the workaround for that is to use an ordinary window, a little spray-on frosting and a projector, along with technology that senses where a customer’s hand is remotely. That way the worst a brick can do is break a window.

That approach would also allow an ordinary store window to become a touchscreen without being physically replaced. But that window will still take a lot more of a beating than a standard store window—especially is anything goes wrong and customers start poking at the window with makeshift styluses. (It seems pretty unlikely that eBay is going to replace that pop-up store’s window with Gorilla Glass.)

How many customers will be able to interact with the window at once? These are fashion customers—they’re not going to want to wait to take their turns (after all, inside a store they can all check out clothing at once). And if the software isn’t set up to handle multiple customers at once, how much ill will is that going to generate?

And what exactly does it mean for customers to “shop and engage with inventory”? Can they go so far as to make E-commerce purchases through the giant touchscreen? If so, it’s a very public place to be keying in a payment-card number on a virtual (and presumably not giant) PINpad. If not, what are after-hours shoppers going to do (besides get frustrated)?

None of this is to say eBay can’t pull this off. But the simpler the concept, the more effort will be required to make it satisfying to shoppers. This one is wonderfully simple—and eBay only has a month or two to make the magic happen.


advertisement

One Comment | Read Can Ebay Pull Off A Giant Touch Window For New York Shoppers?

  1. Ed Says:

    While I do not know the eBay specific solution, you can create a large format touchscreen using a projector projecting a screen against rear projection film on the storefront window, hi-def cameras using object detection like the Kinnect or OpenCV. This is already done in Europe and Asia and probably the most likely implementation.

Leave a Reply

Readers, specifically those who want to comment on a story:
Our Comment SPAM system is getting very aggressive these days and has been blocking legitimate comments. If you post a comment and don't see it appear within 2 hours or so, can you please send a heads-up to customer-service@storefrontbacktalk.com? Ideally, please include the time you posted the comment. That will allow us to try and hunt for it. Thanks! P.S. We're working on fixing the system, but we don't want to lose any valuable comments in the meantime.

Newsletters

StorefrontBacktalk delivers the latest retail technology news & analysis. Join more than 17,000 retail IT leaders who subscribe to our free weekly email. Sign up today!
advertisement

Most Recent Comments

Why Did Gonzales Hackers Like European Cards So Much Better?

I am still unclear about the core point here-- why higher value of European cards. Supply and demand, yes, makes sense. But the fact that the cards were chip and pin (EMV) should make them less valuable because that demonstrably reduces the ability to use them fraudulently. Did the author mean that the chip and pin cards could be used in a country where EMV is not implemented--the US--and this mis-match make it easier to us them since the issuing banks may not have as robust anti-fraud controls as non-EMV banks because they assumed EMV would do the fraud prevention for them Read more...
Two possible reasons that I can think of and have seen in the past - 1) Cards issued by European banks when used online cross border don't usually support AVS checks. So, when a European card is used with a billing address that's in the US, an ecom merchant wouldn't necessarily know that the shipping zip code doesn't match the billing code. 2) Also, in offline chip countries the card determines whether or not a transaction is approved, not the issuer. In my experience, European issuers haven't developed the same checks on authorization requests as US issuers. So, these cards might be more valuable because they are more likely to get approved. Read more...
A smart card slot in terminals doesn't mean there is a reader or that the reader is activated. Then, activated reader or not, the U.S. processors don't have apps certified or ready to load into those terminals to accept and process smart card transactions just yet. Don't get your card(t) before the terminal (horse). Read more...
The marketplace does speak. More fraud capacity translates to higher value for the stolen data. Because nearly 100% of all US transactions are authorized online in real time, we have less fraud regardless of whether the card is Magstripe only or chip and PIn. Hence, $10 prices for US cards vs $25 for the European counterparts. Read more...
@David True. The European cards have both an EMV chip AND a mag stripe. Europeans may generally use the chip for their transactions, but the insecure stripe remains vulnerable to skimming, whether it be from a false front on an ATM or a dishonest waiter with a handheld skimmer. If their stripe is skimmed, the track data can still be cloned and used fraudulently in the United States. If European banks only detect fraud from 9-5 GMT, that might explain why American criminals prefer them over American bank issued cards, who have fraud detection in place 24x7. Read more...

StorefrontBacktalk
Our apologies. Due to legal and security copyright issues, we can't facilitate the printing of Premium Content. If you absolutely need a hard copy, please contact customer service.