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Industry News – Paul Skeldon


THERE WAS only one story dominating e-retail at the end of January – Amazon Go. It is great to see that the ‘future of retail’ has finally opened its doors – a year late – to the great unwashed. Ironic, too that there was a queue to get in.

The fact that it has taken nearly 12 more months to get it ready for the thronging hoard than predicted shows just how difficult it is to get this idea to work well. That alone will have many retailers quaking in their boots.

But worry not. Amazon Go is the future of retail, but it is way ahead of where anyone can rightly expect to be. I would be very surprised if we see another such store outside the West Coast of the US this year, let alone spreading globally.

What it does show, however, is that shoppers want a change. They want to combine the mobile, online and in-store experience and get something better out of shopping. Of course, not having to queue to pay and leave is very appealing, but it doesn’t necessarily have to involve state-of-the-art (and slightly creepy) scanning technology. Checking in when you arrive with mobile and making that a part of an easier way to pay, also doesn’t have to involve a massive technology investment.

Much of what Amazon Go store actually does can sort of be done with existing – and more affordable – technology. Geo-fencing technology would let any retailer check in a customer as they walked in the door. Linking that to an app – and getting customer opt in – would allow that to push offers to the phone. Tie that up with tech such as used by Tesco to scan your shopping as you go and just scan the phone at the end doesn’t remove queuing, but makes it very much quicker.

These two things alone match Amazon Go and could, in theory, be rolled out by thousands of retailers right now.

I am sure that, with Amazon Go hitting the headlines, it will have the galvanising effect of propelling technology vendors and retailers to find ways to match and ape what Amazon is doing – and customers will benefit.


WORLDWIDE MEDIA outlet and tech fanboy dream site Mashable is collaborating with eBay to offer easy-click, shoppable editorial across the UK and US – optimised for mobile.
This new, immersive mobile shopping experience capitalises on Mashable’s role as the go-to source for all things new and next. Combining Mashable’s expert recommendations with the consumer discovery power of eBay, the partnership allows Mashable’s audience to use eBay to shop, browse and purchase products matching those featured on Mashable – all without ever leaving the Mashable site.

The companies have focused on a mobile-first experience that is as friction-free as possible for the audience and so far 65% of traffic to the widget has come via a mobile or tablet.  The desktop experience is also as seamless as possible.

Dan Burdett, Head of eBay EMEA Marketing Lab explains: “We know a lot about how people shop on our site, but less about how they shop off it, so we wanted to bring a simplified shopping experience that brings products to Mashable’s passionate audience rather than expect them to come to us”.

The pilot partnership with Mashable is a pioneering effort from eBay’s Marketing Lab, which focuses on developing disruptive marketing solutions and game-changing innovations. By introducing the new eBay widget to Mashable, the team will be able to understand whether elements such as seller reputation and delivery times matter as much to consumers than they normally would on the platform. The marketing team will use the data and learned consumer insights from the pilot to accelerate business growth and deliver scalable solutions.


HOBBYCRAFT, the largest arts and craft retailer in the UK, has launched a new mobile website using Progressive Web App (PWA) that provides a frictionless shopping journey for its customers. The website is built on the Mobify Platform, leveraging the latest mobile technologies for retail sites to make them feel and look like an app, but without having to download it from an app store. Speed is a key feature of the PWA-driven site, which launched in December, with  Mobify claiming that its platform is typically capable of at least doubling the speed of the previous mobile site. Hobbycraft’s strategy for engaging use and broad reach via the mobile web are important differentiators as the retailer seeks to reach consumers of all ages fuelling the growing trend in arts, craft and home baking across the UK.

Daniel Collier, Multi-channel Development Manager, Hobbycraft said: “We raised a challenge to find the best possible way to communicate with shoppers as well as deliver a best-in-retail purchasing journey. Through its unique approach to combining the latest mobile web technologies and mobile shopping best practices, Mobify exceeded our expectations. We now have a very fast site with far easier navigation, as well as app-like features such as add-to-home screen and the ability to send push notifications — in short, the best possible mobile customer experience available today.” The new Hobbycraft PWA will be enhanced throughout 2018 to include additional features such as Apple Pay and an enhanced store locator.

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