A few months have passed since Overstock became, arguably, the most high-profile retailer to accept bitcoin. While only a handful of major brands have followed Overstock's lead, that doesn't mean its decision isn't having an impact.
As evidence, Ryan Craver, senior vice president of corporate strategy at Hudson Bay Co., told CoinDesk that Overstock's continued bitcoin sales were a key reason he decided to test the waters with bitcoin, albeit through a business partner.
On 10th March, it was revealed that Hudson Bay Co., which operates major brands like Lord & Taylor and Hudson's Bay, would begin accepting bitcoin through omnichannel mobile shopping app Pounce.
Together, Lord & Taylor and Hudson's Bay have more than 100 locations in the US and Canada.
Founded in 2012, the innovative mobile app allows customers to make purchases simply by scanning their smartphone over images in magazines and catalogs.
Shop Lord & Taylor and Other Major Retailers Using Bitcoin Through Pounce - We're excited to announce our... http://t.co/pWOehwCitu
-- Coinbase (@coinbase) March 10, 2014
It may surprise many readers to learn, however, that Pounce was encouraged to accept bitcoin by Craver, who was prompted by continued requests from Lord & Taylor and Hudson's Bay customers.
A bitcoin news follower since mid-2013, Craver suggested that this could be just the beginning of his company's work in the sector.
"We thought Pounce would be the best potential partner, that way we could figure out how large an audience we could truly have with bitcoin, and from there, make a determination about whether we roll this out on our mobile apps, our core site or even in stores."
Craver notes that while he's optimistic, ideas are still in their early stages. After all, Hudson Bay Co. won't be accepting bitcoin payments directly, but both companies have high expectations for the deliverables this trial will return.
Craver told CoinDesk that, his personal interest aside, he is still evaluating the business impact bitcoin could have on his brands. This means that so far he's been following Overstock's progress, and that he has had discussions with Coinbase.
However, Craver's interest can also be seen as part of a larger experiment with omnichannel commerce.
Announced on 24th January, Hudson Bay Co. has seen what it considers a high level of success from its initial Pounce trial. Craver estimates Pounce users register seven engagements every time they use Pounce to browse its catalogs.
In turn, for Avital Yachin, CEO of Pounce, bitcoin arms his product with another incentive to appeal to early-tech adopters.
How buying works
Speaking to CoinDesk, Yachin was equally excited about brining bitcoin to Pounce, and provided a step-by-step overview of how the buying process will work with his app.
First, he said, users download the Pounce application. From there, they can browse products on the app itself or scan a Pounce-enabled printed catalog to shop or save products for later.
One of the biggest selling points for Pounce, however, is its one-click buying.
"You need to enter shipping and payment information, but this needs to be done only once. Once you have your payment information, you can then connect your Coinbase wallet [...] and you can continue purchasing through the app without typing your payment or shipping information again."
Success so far
Yachin declined to provide hard figures for how well Lord & Taylor and other merchants are attracting bitcoin buyers, but indicated that a high percentage of new users are downloading Pounce and then connecting their Coinbase wallets to the app.
Said Yachin: "So far, we're pretty happy with the results."
Craver affirmed that this could be just the beginning of his company's work with bitcoin as well.
"I think down the line, if we feel the attraction, we'll need to evaluate it as a potential payment method."