EBay invested heavily in mobile from very early on, and its sales now reflect the value of this strategy. 

Almost half of eBay’s transactions globally are now touched by mobile at some point in the transaction, whether people research or buy on moble. 

I've been speaking to Jonathan Gabbai, Head of International Mobile at eBay about its mobile strategy...

How many people are using eBay on mobile? 

48% of our user base has used a mobile phone before completing a transaction this year. This includes activities like product research, adding items to wishlists and completing a transaction. 

The UK is our biggest mobile market, in terms of the proportion of users. We see high levels of engagement from customers. 

In addtion, we have now passed the 150m buyers mark (152m in total).  This is up 13% year on year.  

Do you find that users are switching channels regularly? 

Yes, we see all kinds of variations - some start on mobile and complete listings on desktop, others will often complete purchases begun online while on the move. 

We have a large number of multichannel customers and its important to provide the best experience for them, however they choose to use the site. 

If they use the app, our mobile site, or desktop, we need to ensure that the journey is smooth and they can switch between channels and pick up where they left. 

Does the fact that people have PayPal, and therefore smoother mobile payments, make this easier for eBay? 

Yes, PayPal does make it seamless, and it does help when customers don’t have to input payment and address data on mobile. We also work hard to provide an excellent user experience whatever the device. 

With the popularity of responsive design, where do you stand on the apps vs mobile site debate? 

Our strategy is to build the best possible experience, and so we’re platform agnostic. We have apps for Android and iOS as well as mobile sites. We have a team of 500 developers ensuring that customers can access eBay however they choose to. 

Of course, smaller retailers can’t invest to that level, so responsive design does represent a good option. 

They can also choose to sell on eBay, access our audience, and have the problems of optimisation for different devices handled by us. 

You have been trailing click and collect for eBay customers from Argos stores. How has that worked so far? 

Yes, 65,000 of our retailers now offer click and collect from Argos as an option.

I don't have any stats on this, but the feedback from sellers and customers has been very positive. 

I guess this allows you to negate some of the advantages that multichannel retailers enjoy.. 

Yes, and mobile is that bridge between online and offline. We’ve experimented in this area before, with things like pop-up stores and shoppable window displays in the US. 

We've partnered with brands like Toms and Sony on this - people can browse products from digital displays before completing the purchase on their smartphones. 

We’ve also trialled digital changing rooms with Nordstrom, where customers can see information about the clothes they’re trying on - alternative colours and sizes for instance. 

What other innovations can we expect from eBay in the coming year? 

We’re constantly experimenting and trying new products, all with the aim of engaging the customer in a more appealing way, over a variety of touchpoints.

I expect that, for one, wearable technology will have some potential for us in the coming year. 

Graham Charlton

Published 5 December, 2014 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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