Mobile shopping = 40% of eBay

By Dan Wilson July 29, 2014 - 12:16 am

Mobile commerce continues to grow in importance for eBay, according to an interview with one its key executives.

Not only are 40% of eBay transactions said to be “touched by” mobile but a new and very active cohort of mobile only shoppers has arrived to use eBay. New buyers! GOLD DUST!

In the second quarter of this year, 6.6 new mobile customers came to eBay to shop. That’s very significant.

The eBay mobile app was downloaded 20 million times in Q2 this year. That’s 260 million times in total. Total mobile sales grew by 68% in Q2. 1 item a second is bought on mobile in the UK and mobile represented $20bn globally in eBay sales in 2013.

I’d note several things. Sellers: are your items optimised for mobile? If not, why not? Get to it. Check out how they look on a smart phone and amend where you can.

That means: more and better photos, ditch the photo graffiti as per the picture standards rules, ditch extraneous detail in your descriptions. Think mobile.

You might not buy using a mobile device: but everyone else is. And I’ll stick my neck out.

I think eBay is doing more than 40% on mobile. They’ve been sandbagging their numbers for months. It’s more than 40%, maybe as much as 50% and it is growing.

Have you got the message yet? MOBILE IS HUGE FOR EBAY.

Jonathan Gabbai, head of international mobile product at eBay says: “Shopping has been transformed over the past few years thanks to the adoption of smartphones. Today it’s all about a multi-screen experience – you may start a purchase by browsing on your tablet at home, do some additional research on mobile but finish your purchase in store.”

“We know that 40% of eBay transactions globally are touched by mobile at some point in the transaction, and this is only set to increase. In the UK, an item is bought every second via the eBay app and we are one of the most advanced mobile markets in terms of the proportion of eBay sales transacted via mobile.”

“Shoppers want convenience, speed and choice – they want to shop anytime, anywhere, on any device. Convenience is forming an even greater part of the shopping experience and providing competitive advantage. We are seeing smart retailers creating user-friendly mobile, tablet and online platforms that work in a joined-up way.”

“Thinking about how to make shoppers’ lives simpler is a sure-fire way of tapping into consumer need. Wearables are growing in popularity for this very reason – they represent new services that reduce (or even remove altogether) the clicks you need to make a purchase.”

I repeat: this mobile thing is huge. Sellers dismiss it as a fad at their peril.

  • A+
    3 years ago

    I keep reading “are you items optimised for mobiles” but can’t figure out what this exactly entails apart from having a simple black and white description and no heavy HTML stuff

    • jimbo
      3 years ago

      Ideally it would mean that your template is “responsive”, which means it will automatically optimize itself to the device which is being used to view it.

    • A+
      3 years ago

      Thanks. How do you do that?

  • Roger C Morgan
    3 years ago

    I agree with A+, I don’t have a “smart phone” . . . actually I don’t think “smart” is a good description of them . . . so whilst I’m very aware of the impact this “hand held horror” has made on eBay should I reduce the content of my listing just for smart-phone users if I feel that I’ve cut corners on creating a full and well presented listing?

    The problem here is that this piece of supposed “cutting edge technology” is actually moving so much of what can be done on or with the web BACKWARDS in time.

    The web is now “optimised” for PC’s running good graphic cards as well as good RAM and assumes the viewer will be using a wide screen LCD . . . and we should create listings not dissimilar to those we made 5 to 10 years ago because this new, exploding market are using inferior devices?

    So I’m handing the chalice back to eBay on this one. With some of the profits they’ll make from this “new” class of user drastically alter their listing service so that it creates two side-by-side listings, one for PC/Laptop/tablet and the other for smart-phones.

    But “drop the text”? Sorry, I’m highly cautious of the unfair status buyers have to complain about anything so I use ALL the text I can and photo’s too to very accurately describe my listing . . .

    . . . and take a look at listings presently created on a “smart phone”, they’re crap so no wonder the listing ends with the big “no sales”!

    • 3 years ago

      No need to buy a smart phone to see what half of your buyers see on their mobiles…. follow our tutorial on how to emulate your listing on mobile devices

    • A+
      3 years ago

      Cheers for that, Chris! Our listings look brilliant on mobile if the emulation is accurate. Thinking of adding a few small bullet points right before the description

      Very good and useful article, thanks Tamebay

  • chrissieboy
    3 years ago

    ebay need to “optimise” feedback leaving facility for mobile as from customer feedback i have got it is not easy to leave accurate f/b via devices. Thus more mobile sales = possibility of more inadvertently left lower dsrs. As usual ebay telling us to do what they say not what they do.

  • 3 years ago

    To give you an idea of how a listing can be optimised for mobile I’ve taken screen shots of a Toysrus listing from the US.

    Click here to view a standard eBay desktop version

    Click here to view an optimised version for eBay mobile. Note how the elements have been rearranged for a small screen width meaning no side to side scrolling. Sadly this does mean leaving out the links to eBay shop categories, but keeping them would mean a stupidly narrow description and on most non-optimised listings that’s all you see when you first view a listing description on mobile instead of your carefully written descriptions!!

    If you don’t have a smartphone I’d recommend finding someone who does and asking them to show you your listing so that you can see what it looks like.

    • Roger C Morgan
      3 years ago

      Thank you for posting that example, nice and clear comparison, and just about the ONLY one I’ve seen that is showing the seller hanging on to the all important text.

      But I still say this ball is in eBay’s court . . . or do they own some of the template companies and are thus lining their pockets again?

    • 3 years ago

      As far as I know eBay doesn’t OWN any eBay design companies however may have a vested interest in certain ones. To be part of some eBay developer programs you need to pay a yearly fee so the design companies that qualify and sign up for this are normally the ones recommended.

  • Dean
    3 years ago

    I’ve been looking for the elusive “responsive eBay template” for quite a while. One would have thought that eBay would be the first stop for such a thing but …….
    I’ve seen an example of a Frooition one but that didn’t exactly blow me away, but I guess it did what it was supposed to do – which is more than my own template does at the moment. But at £500 for the responsive template on top of the starting price of £1000 for the main design, it’s a little out of budget at the moment.
    I found some interesting info on KidsonTalks about responsive templates too which was quite interesting and I may dabble with the template there.
    But I would really like to know if anyone else has found a a great responsive template at a great price for a non-coder. Anyone?
    Or with all this talk about Cassini preferring non-HTML listings is the “plain text” method the way to go?

    • 3 years ago

      I did that freebie about 18 months ago and loads of sellers have had success with it. Over Christmas/New years I might see if I can do an updated version as eBay have finally realised they need to make it a lot easier for responsive development.

      I will open source it again so code hobbyists can give it a go with their own templates.

  • Steve
    3 years ago

    So whilst ecommerce grew by 135 and ebay lagged behind at 7% its patently obvious bolstering numbers by attacting new buyers isnt working is it? Great to get your items mobile compliant, sad that ebay search doesn’t find them.

  • Jane
    3 years ago

    I’m completely with Roger on this. Maybe I missed something but when were humans issued with super-zoom vision?

    I looked at the 2 versions of the ToysRUs listing – the mobile one is phone sized, but how on earth can anyone read any of that or see the photos properly? And that’s with a brand new box of crayons which we’re all familiar with. What chance is there for sellers of, say, vintage items with photos showing important details or small faults?

    I’ve noticed an increase in the number of buyers asking stupid questions about things that are clearly shown/described in my listings, so perhaps they are viewing them on a mobile and can’t actually see much of it.

    I’ve spent years creating nice templates on Auctiva and my listings look great on a pc. I dread to think how they look on a mobile and haven’t the faintest idea how to ‘optimise’ them. Should I abandon my templates/change the fonts, etc?

    There seems to be an assumption that everyone loves so-called smart-phones. Well I can tell you that I don’t know anyone over 50 who doesn’t struggle to see the content. And perhaps this explains the increase in returns and SNAD cases because people haven’t been able to see the listing properly.

    • Roger C Morgan
      3 years ago

      Jane has a good example with “vintage clothing”, it is so essential to accurately describe these garments, as well as providing large scale photos of any defects, if you are going to get a successful sale.

      I too was unable to increase the size of the “smart phone” sample on my 28″ wide screen monitor to be able to read it. So, whilst those examples clearly showed how they differ, they didn’t address the main issue . . . we don’t, as Jane puts it, come equipped with “super zoom vision” and just how stupid is it to give precedence to inferior technology!

      I dare say though that eBay give little concern to the above . . . just as long as they’re numbers of users increase they’ll be happy with their own statistics . . . till one day those stat’s show that nobody is buying anything!

    • 3 years ago

      Worth pointing out that they are screenshots from a mobile…. if you view the original listing on your mobile or desktop you’ll find it’s a lot clearer and easier to read

    • Roger C Morgan
      3 years ago

      I’ve just picked up on that . . . “screen shots from a mobile” . . . in short text so small it can’t be read?

      I rest my case, your listings will always be at risk of buyer confusion, innocent or criminal, by NOT having clear text easily visible on a decent LCD!

    • Derry
      3 years ago

      I greatly appreciate this article about what looks good on a mobile, especially as I do not have one, don’t want one and my eyesight is not up to reading anything on a mobile screen.

      I have largely given up Ebay due to the fees and moved my vintage stuff to Etsy, where my customers are usually young Americans. I must see if I can check what my Etsy listings are like on a mobile….it might explain some of the questions I get from potential customers.

      Thanks you for explaining all this and the step by step explanation works…good for you!

      Love this site.

  • james
    3 years ago

    Why is it always down to us?
    is eBay, the multi-billion dollar international mega-site responsive? No.

    they choose to opt for the cheaper/easier dual sites, one for desktop, and half a site for mobile.
    do they afford us that option? No.

    So the one-man-bands, the struggling up-and-comers, the garage clearers, are told to learn HTML coding and design their own responsive listings, to put into a non-resposive site, byt the multi-billionare internet & web experts who cant be bothered to do it.

    eBay: it makes sense, to eBay.

    • 3 years ago

      Actually to be fair to eBay they do their best if you work with the tools that they provide.

      For instance with a standard eBay shop listing frame they’ll remove the listing frame from the mobile description so that you don’t end up with a long list of categories taking over the description view…

      It really is down to the seller not to use fixed width tables or fixed width images and to make the description as simple as possible.

      Another thing sellers can do is clear out all the “non-description” crap from their listings. A buyer doesn’t need to read your Ts and Cs (they belong in the business section) or your postage options (they belong in the postage section) or your shipping rules (they belong in the shipping section) or images (eBay gave you 12 free gallery images for a reason) or your returns info (that belongs in the returns section) or your feedback complaints (buyers are put off by you telling them what you’ll do if they dare leave you a neg like a buyer once did six years ago).

      If sellers simply used the description for a “description” and got rid of all the other information into the boxes eBay have kindly made available, listings would be a lot better even if you don’t have HTML skills!

    • Simon
      3 years ago

      These are important points to observe, not just from the point of mobile viewing.

      Years ago, my listings (and I had over 3,000 at one point) had all sorts of information in the description, including shipping, T&Cs, Powerseller logo, etc etc etc. A few years ago, eBay decided I was no longer allowed to put certain info in the description section (I forget exactly what now …) and gave everyone 3 months to change them all MANUALLY! Any that didn’t get changed were not included in the Good Till Cancelled rollovers.

      From that point on, my description has been just that exactly – a description. Now I’m reaping the benefits – I no longer have to change all my listings manually when my postage costs go up, all of my listings are “mobile compatible”, etc etc etc

      Can’t endorse Chris’ comments above enough!


    • 3 years ago

      I think you’re referring to when eBay decided you could no longer accept “Cash”… and then as soon as everyone had taken the word cash out of their listings they did the same thing with “Cheques”…..

      And this was all in the days before any bulk edit tools or find and replace – it really was a “Please go manually edit all of your listings one by one again”!!!

    • DBL
      3 years ago

      Well they’ve just provided a mobile browser friendly shop front for everyone for free (and it’s really really nice on all my devices), my guess is (and it is a guess) they will follow up with either the listing designer, where they have just put the prices up OR they won’t which means that they don’t want html in listing descriptions.

      On a personal note, if I want to read a description on mobile, I want to do just that not see pretty. I have trouble reading smaller print anyway so prefer it without the pretty and with text I can read.

      Out of 3 shops I manage, 1 has an adaptive/responsive mobile template by Pentagon. The other two are text only so I’m hanging fire on spending and seeing what happens.

    • 3 years ago

      My guess is that eBay put up prices for listing designer to discourage use. Too many people would cry if the crappy 10+ year old templates were taken away so they just want to price people out of it rather than have them make a fuss 😉

    • Roger C Morgan
      3 years ago

      As you have indeed noted Chris in an earlier bulletin eBay seem to be at a point of change with how sellers create listings . . . it would just be a lot easier if they were transparent about their plans AND they gave their “income providers” the right tools for the job . . . not forgetting that not everybody has a “shop” so reference to a “store front listing template” above doesn’t do the seller remaining private until the turmoil of DSLR, etc. is sorted out.

    • tinker
      3 years ago

      since when has ebay cared what anyone says ????

  • Simon
    3 years ago

    I had put this in an email to Tamebay towers but thought I would post here too.

    Hi guys,
    not sure if you have reported on this before but.
    I was checking how my variation listings looked on ebay via my mobile.
    Obviously mobile buying is becoming bigger and bigger.

    eBay item number: 360973077014

    I’m not trying to advertise my own listing so please use whatever you feel better suits.
    What I am getting at is the
    desktop version would show the variations, I select the variation and the Image moves to the correct image so the customer knows what they are buying.
    EBAY Mobile APP would show the variations, I select the variation and the Image moves to the correct image so the customer knows what they are buying.
    BUT wait for it.
    The standard…… Version does not show the correct image when a variation is selected.
    It makes it completely pointless and confusing for a customer possibly causing SNAD etc etc

    I tried on my Samsung mobile with Firefox.
    I phoned Ebay customer services and she tried it and also found didn’t change on her mobile version.
    She did advise me that as most people use the EBAY app , and unless they are deluged in moans about it, then it would be pretty slow on the fix list.
    If you feel inclined then please phone or communicate with them to try and get this fixed.

  • Mr. F
    3 years ago

    Mobile FIRST!! In reality if you want sell you products quicker or become apart of the Mobile commerce you MUST have your listings optimized for Mobile. When you hear “responsive” it just means it will move and fit itself to any screen with no additional work. Its actually quite brilliant. I have tried to find a resposive template for ebay but there are none that are “good” and/or missing what you want from the template. Your best bet is to learn HTML and CSS and make the template yourself or pay $600+ USD for a great template. I’m a web developer/ programmer, so for me it is easy. I’m always creating new “responsive” templates for my ebay listings.

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