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EBay ramps up on mobile with relaunch of Apple Watch app

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June 10, 2015

EBay's Apple Watch app.

EBay’s Apple Watch app.

EBay continues to ramp up its mobile strategy, rolling out an Apple Watch app that will let users keep tabs on notifications and items on which they are bidding, selling and watching.

The app – originally launched in April but quietly withdrawn afterward – also helps sellers quickly see customer messages. The app points to the challenges marketers face designing campaigns for smartwatch users who can take in information with a glance or a flick of the wrist.

“EBay sold over $20 billion in the first quarter of 2015 via marketplace transactions and their model relies heavily on mobile consumers watching items and needing to lock in winning bids while on the go,” said Wilson Kerr of Unbound Commerce, Boston. “An eBay Apple Watch application makes sense, since this process is now as easy as glancing at your watch.

“For avid, high volume eBay sellers and buyers, this might be a must-have,” he said.

Personalizing interaction
Ebay’s original watch app was removed from Apple’s list of featured apps to permit further testing, since the online auction and shopping Web site was unable to obtain an actual watch until sales began, The Street.com reported.

The relaunched app’s features include a new, personalized home screen that lets users check out deals, recommendations and items chosen just for them.

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Encouraging users to sample eBay’s marketplace.

To sell an item on eBay with the app, the user first snaps a picture of the item. The app then syncs with the eBay Web site. The app also includes simple charts that let sellers view their revenue stream. 

Besides notifications, the app’s features include barcode scanning that lets users quickly compare prices and import product details to eBay for quick listing.

Users also can search for items available for pickup from a local retailer, or have the items delivered within one to two hours with the eBay Now feature.

EBay’s store has an endless array of products which would be difficult, if not impossible, to navigate on a screen the size of the Apple Watch. The commerce giant strategically chose to design an app that services time-sensitive features an eBay user may want to access.

“Generally it’s easier for consumers to engage with e-commerce on bigger screens where there is more room to browse a wide variety of products,” said Shuli Lowy, marketing director for mobile with Ping Mobile. “Mobile commerce comes in handy for purchases that are time- or location-sensitive because consumers are more likely to make them on the go,” she said.

Last minute
The app will lead to higher bids as more customers are able to participate in auctions at the last minute as well as a better user experience since sellers will be able to respond to their customers faster.

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Letting on-the-go sellers view their revenue stream.

“Essentially, eBay is providing a simpler and faster method to access their marketplace,” Ms. Lowy said. “Most major retailers understand that it takes a lot of resources to generate app downloads.

“Brands that are building apps for the Apple watch early are gaining a competitive advantage because of their speed to market.”

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York 

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