“Christmas is coming” – eBay offers a Stark approach to holiday shopping


As it’s the start of December I simply had to theme this blog on Christmas. I’ve been able to open the first door on my advent calendar, the office is all discussing new Christmas jumpers and the upcoming Christmas party – anticipation is in the air for the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ as Andy Williams put it.

Even the biggest Scrooges out there would start humming Christmas Carols if they saw the beautiful decorations lining the streets of Farnham on this crisp winter’s morning.

So as you can probably tell, I’m a big fan of the festive period, but there is a stressful element to Christmas. Like buying the perfect presents for those special people in your life. I’ve heard lots of different approaches to this annual dilemma. Some simply ask their loved ones what they want, others go with the ‘you’ll get what you’re given’ attitude and some families decide they will use all the money they would have spent on others and agree to just buy something really nice for themselves. Now I can understand all of these methods – very practical – but to an old fashioned, mince-pie eating, eggnog-drinking, present-wrapping enthusiast like myself, it doesn’t really feel like the spirit of Christmas.

Though if you’re not a fan of the “Oh, thank you so much – this steam operated mop is exactly what I’ve always wanted!” spiel (though personally I feel this method of acting is a skill all should learn) then eBay may have the answer for you.

eBay is analysing facial expressions to decide what you want for Christmas. The company opened a pop-up store in London last Tuesday where shoppers can enter a booth containing a screen, headphones and a camera, and browse items to find out which ones they ‘emotionally connect with’. Sensors then analyse the person’s reaction to the products they see, with the aim of providing suggestions for what people really want to give – or receive – over the holiday season. eBay claims, “Muscular micro-shifts from visitors will be captured and correlated with complex emotional and cognitive states recognised by the innovative software engine”.

Research shows that people become fed up with Christmas shopping after just 32 minutes, so if this is you, maybe eBay is the answer?

However, is this shopping stress really necessary? Has Christmas become over-commercialised? Isn’t the festive season more about spending time with those you love the most, eating ridiculous amounts of food and mid-afternoon naps? Perhaps the most philosophical of us all though, to quote Senior Account Manager, Liam Sherry, “Christmas is Christmas”.