eBay Drives $2 Billion In Mobile Revenue In 2010 With Niche-Focused M-Commerce Strategy

While research and forecasts indicate that the mobile channel is on the fast track for mainstream adoption, retailers at the forefront of mobile are realizing real revenue opportunities waiting to be mined from this growing channel. Mobile commerce is expected to grow to $119 billion globally by 2015, according to ABI Research.

eBay, the largest e-Commerce marketplace, reported that sales completed by shoppers using their mobile phones more than tripled in 2010 to $2 billion worldwide. Moreover, the San Jose, CA-based digital auction and retail platform forecasts that global mobile sales will double in 2011, reaching $4 billion.

eBay has been working to grow its mobile brand in anticipation of continued mobile commerce growth. In June 2010, eBay, Inc. acquired RedLaser, a barcode-scanner mobile application, and in December 2010 the company purchased Critical Path Software Inc., further accelerating its mobile strategy by extending its solution offerings.


During Mobile Commerce Daily’s M-Commerce Summit May 12 in New York, the company shared key insights on how it is driving growth via the mobile channel, as well as forward-thinking plans to further integrate barcode scanning into the mobile mix.

“Mobile is absolutely incremental for a couple of reasons,” said Steve Yankovich, Vice President of eBay Mobile. “We’re driving brand new shoppers into eBay because of mobile, and a lot of times we communicate with users in different ways, including social networks like Twitter, and even direct contact. There’s a lot of advocacy going on with mobile.”

eBay’s Mobile Momentum
Focused on providing mobile applications that appeal to every current eBay shopper, as well as offering apps that will help acquire new customers, eBay currently offers more than 15 mobile apps. eBay’s multiple mobile applications have been downloaded by more than 40 million users globally, 18 million of which are opting in via iPhones. eBay’s top selling categories include clothing, shoes and accessories; cell phones and accessories; collectibles; jewelry and watches; and toys and hobbies.

While some retailers have implemented branded applications in addition to a mobile optimized e-Commerce site, eBay has taken its mobile strategy a step further by adding multiple applications built to reflect the capabilities and functions of various mobile devices.  eBay’s iPhone application, which is available in eight languages across 190 counties, offers users the ability to browse more than 200 million listings in eBay, comparison shop via a built-in barcode scanner and list items for sale in less than 60 seconds, which, Yankovich said,  is key in retaining customers and ultimately converting the sale. “We decided to go after the design of each mobile platform,” Yankovich. “Let’s do what our customers bought the phone for.”

For example, the Windows 7 interface is designed to house images efficiently, so this presented eBay with an opportunity to provide a more visual shopping experience via high-resolution thumbnails. “The shopping experience is not about typing a lot,” Yankovich said. “It’s about when the customer will transact and where. A lot of our apps are about where we expect people to be shopping.”

Driving Sales Via RedLaser
A large part of the mobile commerce conversation has been centered on price comparison, and its ability to cause a detrimental affect to the in-store shopping experience, as shoppers can easily access competitive prices via mobile at the point of decision. As part of the acquisition of RedLaser, eBay is leveraging scanning technology to its advantage to drive mobile sales. More than 9 million users have downloaded the RedLaser iPhone application, according to Rob Veres, General Manager. RedLaser currently works with more than 150 partners to license its barcode scanning technology.

“It’s about situational shopping, where the inspiration to shop doesn’t just happen in front of the computer,” said eBay’s Yankovich. “It’s about how consumers live their lives, what they are doing that creates the inspiration, sometimes even a need, to act on a purchase right then and there.”

To capitalize on the notion of “situational shopping,” RedLaser partnered with Atlantic Records earlier this year to create a mobile campaign for the album release of R&B artist Lupe Fiasco, whose album was aptly titled “Lasers.” Leveraging Quick Response (QR) codes on print media, stickers and even buildings in New York and Los Angeles, the campaign offered consumers the ability to scan codes in order to access a mobile web experience that provided more information about the album release and the ability to pre-order the album. The “instant engagement” provided a boost in pre-sales, which helped Lupe Fiasco earn the top spot on the Billboard charts during the first week of his album’s release.

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