Economy

Mobile action ramps up for retailers: eBay

Rose Powell /

SMEs who sell online need to switch gears and start customising their sales strategy for mobile purchases to take best advantage of the booming online retail trend.

The spokesperson for eBay, Megan English, told StartupSmart that the mobile trend was booming and Australian start-ups need to be focused on mobile.

“You need to understand how enormous the market opportunity is for mobile sales,” English says.

“It’s critical in Australia to think mobile first as that’s the way the trend is going.”

Mobile sales through the five-year-old eBay mobile app have grown by 33 times since the first year of the app. In 2012, over $13 billion worth of products were bought via the mobile app, doubling the total in 2011. The company expects to process $20-22 billion worth of transactions through the app in 2013.

“From what we can see, the mobile trend doesn’t look like it’s slowing down any time soon,” English says, adding that while eBay hasn’t worked out when mobile sales will outpace desktop browser sales, they expect it to be within five years.

English says, while every category has been penetrated by mobile, fashion, car parts and electronic devices are the fastest growing categories.

“No matter what you’re selling in whatever category, retailers need to be focused on mobile,” English says.

“You need to ask yourself how the image of your product looks on multiple screens, because we know Australians are shopping on multiple devices and they need a consistent experience to feel comfortable and confident to buy.”

English says Australians have been the fastest market to buy on their mobile phones, spending more as a percentage of sales on their mobile than any other market.

“Australians are in general very tech-savvy and they’re fast adopters,” English says. “It’s important to note people are prepared to spend serious amounts of money on their mobile now too.”

She says start-ups who are looking to move their product via mobile apps such as eBay’s need to experiment with the content they upload, but there are a few basic rules.

“The image is king on mobile, but a brief description with as much information you can fit in a concise way is the best option, because people are consuming on the go and reading quickly,” English says.

“It’s always best to shoot (photograph) on a white background. The image has more clarity and you get the best idea of what the product looks like. Lots of people like to put logos and writing across the image, but we see on eBay that those are not the most successful.”

English says eBay will be investing in developing the social media functionality of the app to match the desktop experience. She says there is a growing trend of social sharing as part of the sales process, especially among Gen Y users.

This article first appeared on StartupSmart.

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