Window-shopping just got more interesting, thanks to eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY). That's because the e-commerce giant is rolling out digital storefronts at malls across the country. eBay first unveiled the shoppable window technology in June through a collaboration with Fifth & Pacific (NYSE:KATE), the parent company of Kate Spade Saturday. Together, the companies began testing 24-hour window shops in New York City.
Online shopping's new look
eBay initially opened four interactive windows in New York to showcase Fifth & Pacific's Kate Spade Saturday products, though the displays were available to shoppers only from June 8 through July 7. Nevertheless, they generated enough traffic to catch the attention of some other big retailers. eBay recently created digital storefronts for Sony, TOMS, and Rebecca Minkoff. The e-commerce giant launched three touchscreen windows for these brands last month at the Westfield Mall in San Francisco.
This new interactive shopping experience works with eBay's PayPal service so that customers can select products they want from the touchscreen window and finish the transaction on their mobile devices. The customer can then choose to have their purchases shipped free or pick up the items within the mall. This is a great way for eBay to attract mallgoers to PayPal. Not to mention it gives eBay a physical presence in high foot-traffic areas such as malls.
This isn't the first time eBay has stepped outside its online comfort zone. The company has worked with retailers such as Home Depot in the past to bring its mobile retail technology to the offline experience. Last year, eBay tested its mobile point-of-sale system in as many as 2,000 Home Depot locations throughout the country. Today, more than 23 national retailers let shoppers make in-store purchases using eBay's POS PayPal platform.
Moreover, eBay's long-standing relationships with physical retailers should help the company land more contracts for shoppable windows going forward. And eBay says it has filed several patents for this technology.
These interactive storefronts also have clear benefits for the retailer. "With about 40% of all retail spending in the U.S. now involving some kind of online engagement, interactive glass technology allows retailers to think about cubic versus square feet for their retail shops," according to eBay.
More than this, eBay's shoppable windows also collect valuable data for the retailers that use them. eBay's connected glass displays use Kinect sensors that monitor the user's movements so it can track what customer's are reacting to.
Similar to the digital popup windows for Fifth & Pacific's Kate Spade Brand, eBay's digital storefronts in San Francisco will be around for only a limited time. The new connected glass screens in San Francisco will be up and running from Nov. 20 through Jan. 12 -- just in time for the all-important holiday shopping season.
Looking to the future
If it's up to eBay, shoppable windows will be the future of retail. As eBay's head of innovation and new ventures, Steve Yankovitch, explains: "This is not a pilot for us; this is a thing we're going to scale."
Fool contributor Tamara Rutter has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends eBay and Home Depot and owns shares of eBay. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.