‘Market leader’ is a banned phrase at Econsultancy and for good reason, but unfortunately it’s also one of the only ways I can think of describing eBay when it comes to mobile.
Ebay has also held several high profile demonstrations of mobile shopping in London and been a prominent campaigner for improved 4G access in Europe.
I caught up with eBay's senior director for mobile commerce Olivier Ropars to see what the company has planned for 2013...
1. EBay enjoyed an extremely successful 2012 in terms of mobile revenue. How do you plan to build on this in 2013?
In 2012 we exceeded our original targets for mobile sales reaching $13 billion and we’re expecting to see this grow to over $20 billion this year. Mobile has revolutionised the way people shop and I believe that the high street of the future, with mobile at its heart, represents an exciting new chapter in the world of retail.
This year we’re working with some of the UK’s biggest retailers to help them get the most out of mobile. We have invested in new technologies to improve the search function and introduce augmented reality to our eBay Fashion and Motors apps.
2. Bricks-and-mortar stores have been forced to adapt to changing times by adopting a multichannel approach to retail. How important is mobile to eBay’s own multichannel strategy?
The world is no longer about online or offline – it’s about connected commerce – the ability to shop, anytime, anywhere. Mobile is the glue that brings these online and offline experiences together.
For example, one third of all eBay transactions today are “touched” by mobile, meaning users access listings or post products using their mobile, even if the sale isn’t made on a mobile phone.
For retailers it’s a powerful channel that can increase sales and must not be neglected.
3. EBay paints itself as a partner for high street retailers, but aren’t you really a competitor as you’re taking sales away from their own stores and e-commerce sites?
Not at all. Our business is structured so that we can only continue to grow if the brands and retailers who sell through our platform are successful.
Unlike other online marketplaces such as Amazon, we don’t have an inventory of our own products, so it’s absolutely true to say that we’re a partner, not a competitor. We’re a channel that many leading retailers use.
For retailers using eBay as part of an omnichannel strategy, we provide an alternative platform to reach millions of new customers around the world.
Retailers retain full control – it’s their shop window to curate as they wish. Today over 100 well-known brands and retailers use the site and the number keeps on growing.
4. Which type of device is currently most popular with your users – desktop, smartphone or tablet? And how do you see that changing in the next 12 months?
The eBay user typically uses different devices at different points in their shopping journey.
We know that one third of all eBay transactions are touched by mobile and sales from tablet devices are up 55% compared to the same time last year.
This trend is only going to increase with the arrival of 4G and the rise in smartphone use.
5. How does user activity differ between tablet and desktop?
Shoppers today want a seamless, omnichannel shopping experience with the ability to shop anytime, anywhere – from browsing at home or price checking on the way to work, to locating stock and checking availability in-stores.
Last Christmas we found that tablet shoppers tended to spend the most, with the average user spending £154 compared to smartphone shoppers who spent around £85 each.
With a host of new tablet devices arriving to market, we’ll see more consumers than ever shopping via this format.
6. How popular is the barcode scanner in your mobile apps? Do you think this capability had an impact on the success of your apps?
Our RedLaser app is incredibly popular and has contributed to the success of our app downloads because it enhances and improves the in-store experience for the consumer.
But it’s not the sole reason that we’ve seen 120 million downloads of our apps globally.
Other factors include PayPal, which allows shoppers to make an instant purchase just by entering one password. All of our apps are user friendly and most importantly, available across a range of devices and operating systems.
Our eBay Fashion app and Motors app are also doing incredibly well, proving the powerful impact of technologies such as image recognition.
7. The eBay homepage was recently redesigned to use a tiled layout. Is this part of a move towards making the site responsive?
As a business, eBay embraces a culture of evolution and change – we wouldn’t be a leader in our industry without it.
Last year we took the next step by creating the new eBay, which offers a cleaner, more contemporary and consistent experience, with innovation that makes buying and selling easier and more enjoyable.
The new site also focuses on personalisation, to give eBay users a curated shopping experience that’s relevant to them.