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A Fair-Retail like no other

by Contagious I/O

This story originally appeared on Contagious I/O, our customisable research platform featuring the world’s most creative, ingenious and effective brand-funded ideas

EBay provides gift inspiration in panto form

This Christmas eBay has helped Britons come up with gift ideas via a shoppable pantomime.

On 29 and 30 November, the online retailer staged a production of Cinderella with a ‘unique shopping twist’ at London’s Charing Cross Theatre, which Contagious attended.

In addition to the classic evil stepsisters and handsome prince, the storyline featured a Fairy Godmother looking to buy the best possible Christmas presents. ‘I’m here to inspire you to buy lots of lovely things this Christmas,’ the Fairy Godmother told the audience, who were all equipped with iPads.

At sporadic moments throughout the performance, the Fairy Godmother would freeze the action on-stage, then instruct everyone to peer down at their iPads and choose a present for the important people in their lives. The tablets showcased products available on eBay and audience members could select, for example, whether their mother would prefer a pair of sunglasses, a rice cooker or a smartphone for Christmas. Following the play, the audience members received an email gift list of all the items they had chosen.

‘This is a bespoke theatre performance designed to showcase our gift selection at Christmas,’ said Steven Heywood of eBay’s corporate communications team. ‘Our aim is to provide an interactive experience with a fresh take on a traditional pantomime that provides a fun, thought provoking showcase of the rising importance of entertainment and engagement in shopping.’

Tickets for Cinderella: An Inspiration Fair-Retail cost £6 ($10) and all proceeds went to The Laura Crane Youth Cancer Trust charity.

Contagious Insight

EBay’s theatrical experience is a light-hearted way to show how online shopping can be a combination of entertainment and convenience. EBay’s Steven Heywood explained that certain online platforms, such as Amazon, are considered to be focused on utility, while others like Etsy and Pinterest are viewed more as the destinations for inspiration, encouraging masses of engagement but not driving as many sales. EBay, conversely, views itself as sitting in the sweet spot between utility and inspiration.

‘Consumers want cheaper and faster shipping, better returns, improved customer service, and endless selection,’ Heywood told Contagious. ‘At the same time, an entirely new category of digital shopping has emerged, in just the last year. This is shopping through browsing, inspiration, and even entertainment.’

Through initiatives like eBay Now and Click and Collect, the brand is thinking about what its customers ‘need’ from their shopping experience. These are ‘things that help reduce friction, speed shopping and fulfillment and build trust’, Heywood said. But eBay is also paying attention to what its customers ‘want’ or ‘love’, by replicating the joy that customers find physically shopping in store.

The goal of the shoppable pantomime was to bring both inspiration and the social aspects of shopping onto the online experience. This is something that mobile brings together well, Heywood said, citing that eBay expects $20bn worth of global sales on mobile in 2013, with one third of all transactions occuring through mobile.

This pantomime is a demonstration of how eBay is attuned to both the frictionless experience that shoppers need and the entertaining, inspirational experience that they want.

Ebay's shoppable pantomime

This story originally appeared on Contagious I/O. Contagious I/O is our bespoke trends, inspiration, insight and analysis service, providing daily innovative marketing intelligence across a comprehensive range of sectors to brands and agencies across the world. For more information about Contagious I/O contact