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eBay revamps app to combine buying and selling into one offering – all enhanced with barcode scanning

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eBay has revamped its highly successful – 10million downloads and counting – iPhone app to combine the buying and selling functionality in its two separate apps into one tool. The new version of the app also features the integration of Red Laser barcode scanning, which eBay purchased earlier this year, as well as seeing drastic improvements in search and overall performance. Android and m-web versions are set to follow in 2011.

The new app will replace the two that eBay currently offers iPhone users – the majority of its mobile user base – and the company will now no longer update the separate selling and will eventually phase it out, Roeland Loof, senior manager for mobile at eBay Europe exclusively reveals to M-Retailing.

The move to consolidate the two apps into one comes on the back of massive uptake of both apps in Europe and the US over the past year and an explosion of sellers appearing on mobile. Loof says that eBay has seen “300 to 400% growth” in mobile use in a year, almost exclusively through the iPhone, with selling becoming a key part of this. Combining the two apps into one makes the use of the app for either much more simple.

The company also hopes that improved integration with Red Laser’s barcode scanning technology will also make the process of mobile selling a lot easier to manage too.

“The challenge with the selling side of eBay on mobile is that the consumer is creating the content, rather than consuming it as on the selling side, and this raises many challenges through mobile,” explains Loof. “If you see something in your house that you want to sell, mobile is the ideal tool for it as you can get it on to eBay there and then, rather than have to get it to you desktop PC. But there is a lot of data that needs to be created by the user to do that. Scanning a barcode and using the information Red Laser has on that item can really streamline this process.”

Loof also revealed that, while iPhone accounts for the vast bulk of the companies mobile traffic – both buying and selling – the company was in the process of looking at the roll out of Android and m-web versions of its services too in the coming months “as demand dictates”, he says.

“We are right in the middle of the process of developing a mobile optimised version of the web, which we are rolling out in the US, with UK and Europe to follow and we have a WAP based version for the UK that delivers a more app like experience,” says Loof. “This will focus on buying to start with and won’t be the same functionality as the app as the app makes more use of the native functions of the handset to deliver a really rich experience, but we will see m-web services grow as demand rises.”

Loof sees mobile as an important part of eBay’s future strategy for both buying and selling of goods, but it still has a long way to go compared with PC based retail. “We have seen 300 to 400% growth in a year – something I have not seen in any business anywhere before – but mobile still only accounts for about five per cent of what we do. By the end of next year it could well be way over 10% and it is an important channel – 350,000 mobile visitors per day in the UK, half of whom are transactional – but it will be part of what we do.”

Loof also believes that growth in mobile will come from more than just more users: it will also be driven by making better use of mobile to service specific verticals and to make more use of the inherent advantages mobile has to offer.

“2011 will see us certainly look at more verticals with mobile,” he says. “We already have a separate eBay Fashions app and will be looking at how to deliver a motoring one in the coming year, along with other verticals. We are also looking to make more use of the inherent functions of the phone such as the camera and location – with augmented reality and location playing a huge part in our future plans.”

Loof continues: “To date, we have not seen much real use of AR in retail and I think that we will in 2011 see AR come into its own in improving customer experience. We already have trialled a service using AR where you can try on sunglasses before you buy. This will be expanded and will add a whole new and valuable dimension to the customer experience,” he says.

“We are also looking at how to make use of the location information that mobile offers, a vector of data we haven’t used yet and which could be very useful to show, by comparison to local vendors, what great value eBay offers,” Loof concludes.
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