After losing ground to Amazon.com (AMZN) for years in online retailing, eBay has emerged as a leader in a new market: mobile commerce. As consumers increasingly shop with their BlackBerrys, iPhones, and handsets powered by Google’s (GOOG) Android software, such as the Motorola (MOT) Droid, eBay has become the top mobile retailer in the U.S., say analysts.
People are buying cars with through mobile apps and the story kicks off with a somewhat disturbing account of a lawyer’s use of his free time in court to buy really expensive French silver settings (hope his clients like what their money is buying!). While I may say it’s disturbing it is music to eBay’s revenue ears.
While mobile is still a small part of eBay’s $8.7 billion in total revenue, it’s a booming market. By 2015, mobile commerce will grow into a $119 billion global industry, up from $18.3 billion last year, according to analyst Mark Beccue of ABI Research.
Now, I have to admit that the prediction from the quote above is a bit heady but that’s just based on my gut reaction and no research science.
So what is eBay doing?
So far, eBay has produced 14 mobile apps that let users buy, sell, and hunt for deals. Steve Yankovich, eBay’s vice president for mobile, says he is aiming for a production pace of one app every five weeks. “We pick and choose what will move the needle, and then we do it fast,” he says. Last year, for example, Yankovich and his team added the feature that alerts mobile shoppers as to the status of auctions. “Sales shot up,” he says. “It was instant money.” On June 23, eBay announced its acquisition of RedLaser, a mobile app that uses a cell phone’s camera to scan bar codes.
Sales shot up? Instant money? Music to any business’ ears for sure. I am admittedly not an eBay user so I want it to be known that my experience with the service is next to nil. Hearing about this kind of mobile adoption, however, is making me think twice for sure. As eBay rolls out more truly useful apps and commits to the strategy in full there is plenty of optimism in the C-suite
John Donahoe, 50, eBay’s chief executive officer since two years ago, says the company will roll out apps tailored to specific product categories. The first, eBay Fashion, will display popular items and deals in a slide show that users can browse through by swiping their finger on a touchscreen. The app will also offer a kind of virtual dressing room; if you find a shirt you like, for example, you can use your phone’s camera to superimpose an image of the shirt on an image of you.
Sounds pretty cool actually. What are your thoughts? Are you an eBay junkie? If so are you using these apps?