Partnerships / Acquisitions

Retail Bedfellows Roundup: Staples Shares Space, Affirm Finances Life Experiences

Retail Partnerships Make The World Go Round

Omnicommerce usually refers to where and how retailers sell their products, not necessarily who they choose to sell them with. At the rate so many once-solitary brands are shacking up with other companies, though, maybe the definition of the term needs to be widened a bit. From office supplies and communal workspaces to new ways to pay for concert tickets, more barriers to siloed retail activity are falling every day to the onslaught of retail partnerships.

 

Staples Will Sell You A Desk — Or Let You Share One

Unless you’re a writer or an agoraphobe, the appeal of buying office furniture for a personal workspace at home is declining by the day. Sure, one could sit back in an armchair and chalk it all up to irascible millennials, but Staples is taking the proactive approach and making sure it can provide the right office supplies, however — and wherever — its consumers want them.

Early April saw Staples announce a partnership with Workbar that will see parts of three of the office supply retailer’s Massachusetts stores converted into communal workspaces available for on-demand rental. Located in suburbs of Boston in the three cardinal directions that don’t lead to the Atlantic, the workspaces-within-a-store will range between 2,500 and 3,500 square feet and will feature dedicated areas for quiet and communication-heavy work.

In addition to gobbling up some inefficiently used floorspace inside Staples’ stores, Workbar CEO Bill Jacobson told Retail Dive that while his company’s communal spaces have proven popular in urban areas where office space can be expensive or impossible to come by, the partnership with Staples could bring that same flexibility to the suburbs, exurbs and any other -urb that millennial remote workers might want to move to.

“People are everywhere,” Jacobson said. “People are living in all different places. If you’re getting of an age, raising a family, it’s tough to stay urban. And people move to all different locations for a variety of reasons. If you have a workspace within 20 or 30 minutes of where you live, it gives you that flexibility so you can maybe actually enjoy the suburbs.”

At the very least, having a Staples so close means that workers won’t have to worry about running out of K-Cups in the middle of the day.

 

Affirm To Travelers, Concertgoers: Splurge Now, Pay Later

Affirm made waves in 2012 when it launched with a novel premise: offer shoppers loans at the point of sale to let them buy and pay off products they otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford. That subtle checkout conversion mission is still ongoing, but now, Affirm is branching out beyond the regular confines of in-store and online retail.

During this year’s annual Shoptalk conference in Las Vegas, Affirm announced that it had finalized partnerships with travel aggregator Expedia and live event ticketing platform Eventbrite to extend its deferred payment options to these non-product retail categories. Through Expedia, shoppers will be able to pay off hotel bookings of at least a $200 value, though no minimum was outlined for concert or event tickets from Eventbrite. Whether or not the average shopper will still want to make diligent payments three, six or 12 months after an intangible experience remains to be seen, but Eventbrite VP of Product Laurent Sellier thinks that the Affirm partnership can break down a not-insignificant barrier to the high-priced options both it and Expedia sell.

“Our focus is solving meaningful problems for our organizers and attendees with world-class products and innovation,” Sellier said in a statement. “We host a wide variety of events on our platform, including larger and multi-day conferences and festivals, which can be spendy, so we’re delighted that, through Affirm, we will be able to give more people access to amazing live experiences.”

Hopefully, Affirm has a plan in place when cancelled flights and bands too inebriated to play correctly cause more than a handful of delinquent loans.

 

eBay’s Virtual Future

Along with a handful of other household names, eBay was one of the pioneers of the rise of online shopping ubiquity. Even though full-fledged eCommerce is barely more than a decade old, the online marketplace and auction house is making sure it’s ready for the next wave of intangible shopping.

May 19 saw eBay Australia announce a finalized partnership with Down Under retailer Myer to open up a fully virtual department store loaded with over 12,500 products. Using a virtual reality headset eBay has dubbed the “shoptical,” consumers will be able to browse, select and purchase items with eBay’s Sight Search with nothing but their eyes — a short look on an item will bring it closer to view, a glimpse at informational icons will bring up more details and a long gaze at an “Add to Cart” button will whisk it away for purchase.

EBay is so sure consumers are ready for a new, three-dimensional way to shop that it’s giving 15,000 shopticals away to Australian shoppers for absolutely nothing.

“We hope our shopticals make it into the hands of technology lovers but, more importantly, shoppers who might not live close to a department store and can now experience virtual shopping from the comfort of their own home,” Jooman Park, managing director of eBay Australia and New Zealand, said in a statement.

 

Using Data To Stop Data Breaches

Hacking is having a bit of a renaissance moment. Not only are the regular brute-force and phishing methods confounding retailers and government institutions alike, but the rise of ransomware poses a particularly urgent concern for anyone and any company that relies on reliable access to their own computers. Stopping these hackers once they get in is nigh impossible, but NuData Security and the National Anti-Organized Retail Crime Association (NAORCA) think something can be done before all that.

NuData and NAORCA announced their preventative partnership on Tuesday (May 24), and the joint venture will see the former put its “enhanced device identification, passive biometrics and behavioral analytics” to work in identifying potentially illicit behaviors before any real damage is done. While this smacks a little too much of “Minority Report” to sound like it might work as well as described, there’s little arguing with NuData CEO Michel Giasson’s assertion that “traditional fraud detection methods clearly aren’t working.”

What a breach of etiquette to call out the retail security industry — however necessary it is.

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