Ebay and Argos announce 'click-and-collect' tie-up

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Media captionSelected eBay purchases can be collected from certain Argos stores - bosses from the companies say it means "consumers win"

Shoppers will soon be able to order selected goods from eBay and pick them up from an Argos store.

The "click-and-collect" scheme is being piloted by the e-commerce giant in about 150 shops belonging to the high street chain, which is part of Home Retail Group.

At least 50 eBay merchants are taking part in the scheme but have not been named yet.

The move may help eBay challenge Amazon's Locker delivery.

The Amazon scheme lets people order online then pick up their package from a growing number of secure passcode-protected lockers situated in local shops or other public venues.

Both Amazon, eBay and other online retailers are also involved in the separate Collect+ scheme, which allows parcels to be collected from participating corner shops, avoiding the risk of missing a delivery.

One retail analyst said more of these tie-ups could be expected.

"Pure-play home-delivery e-commerce can actually be profoundly inconvenient," Bryan Roberts, from the consultancy Kantar Research, told the BBC.

"There's nothing convenient about having to queue up at the post office for 30 minutes every Saturday morning.

"Workplace delivery is an option, but an increasing number of employers are getting frustrated with acting as e-retailers' unwilling fulfilment partners.

"So, it makes sense to forge a partnership with national retailers, and we'll see more of this because it marries the benefits of online shopping - competitive prices and massive ranges - with the convenience of the real-world store you can pop into on your way home."

Argos has been expanding its own click-and-collect service, allowing shoppers to have an item held back that might be in short supply or ordered in if not in stock.

There is a risk that the eBay tie-up could cannibalise some of those sales, and Argos noted the tie-up was only a trial set to last about six months.

Image caption Ebay is hoping the Argos tie-up will help it compete with Amazon

"Having pioneered check-and-reserve in the year 2000, it now accounts for around a third of our business and continues to grow," said the firm's managing director, John Walden.

"[Ebay] is already a strong partner with Argos and a logical partner for the trial.

"We look forward to assessing the opportunity for Argos to provide fulfilment for eBay's merchants, including the operational requirements, attractiveness to sellers and consumers, and opportunity for increased customer footfall."

In May, Argos reported its first rise in annual sales in five years, largely thanks to online sales and the popularity of its "check and reserve" service.

Ebay also announced it planned to test a one-hour delivery service in London some time in 2014, but said it had no other details to share at this time.

The firm already runs the eBay Now service in New York and San Francisco, allowing shoppers to have goods delivered from ToysRUs, Urban Outfitters, The Home Depot and other local stores within about 60 minutes of completing their order for a $5 (£3.10) fee.

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