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eBay talks up mobile's success - but not everyone agrees

By Hugh Jordan

October 28, 2011 | 2 min read

There were conflicting opinions about the state of mobile retail at Weber Shandwick’s ‘Mobile Christmas and an APPy new year’ breakfast debate this morning.

Taking up the case for the defence, Clare Moore-Bridger, corporate communications manager at eBay UK, said over 50 million people worldwide have downloaded the eBay app. UK consumers are the most mobile-savvy of eBay’s worldwide customer base - 10% of eBay UK’s sales across all platforms are through mobile devices.

Moore-Bridger also noted how tablet devices are changing shopping habits: “Research shows smartphone users come back 12 or 13 times a day to revisit items whereas tablet users are browsing for longer periods of time,” said Moore-Bridget.

But while eBay may be making a success of mobile retail, Tarlok Teji, retail analyst at Manchester Business School, made a damning prosecution of most retailers failure to adapt to the mobile space.

Lengthy browsing times mean little, he said, unless they are converted: “60% of consumers online abandon their baskets - and that is the lowest estimate that has been given. The actual figure is likely much higher.”

Teji three golden rules for online retailers are to make it convenient, make it simple and make it secure. Despite the rules seemingly self-evident nature, the majority of retailers are still failing to get these basics right, according to Teji.

To an extent their difficulty is eBay’s gain. Moore-Bridget pointed out that brands need not develop their own mobile retail proposition - they can use eBay’s app instead. And big name brands such as House of Fraser, Argos and SuperDry are doing just that.

eBay has made its API available to developers in the hope it will spawn further innovation. Barcode scanning technology has already been integrated and Moore-Bridget is looking ahead to image-recognition and other tools aiding the mobile retail experience.

“My niece is 8 years old,” Moore-Bridget said. “By the time she starts properly shopping for clothes people will be able to take a photo of a dress a friend is wearing, use their phone to see where the dress is available and at what price, then collect discount vouchers as they walk past the shop.”


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