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EBay uses SMS to drive mobile commerce during holidays

December 24, 2009

EBay uses SMS as a tool to engage consumers and drive sales

EBay uses SMS as a tool to engage consumers and drive sales

This holiday season, eBay has been bringing its marketplace to cities across the country with a Mobile Boutique where it is issuing an SMS call-to-action.

Within the eBay boutique, holiday shoppers can buy new products related to gifting trends such as “Eco-Excellence” and “Savvy Splurging” and search millions of gift options, as well as a live Wishes Stream that consumers can contribute to via SMS. In addition, Flash Giveaways of $50 eBay Gift Cards were given to the first 100 guests to show up to the eBay Mobile Boutique on select days and share a secret password, available online via the eBay social networking sites.

“EBay created its holiday Wishes Stream as a platform for consumers to share their holiday wishes with others, and to connect with the spirit of the holiday season,” said Evonne Gomez, senior public relations specialist at eBay, San Jose, CA.

During the holiday season, consumers can engage with eBay’s live Wishes Stream in three ways:

1. They can text their wishes to 56376,
2. They can enter their wishes online at
3. They can tweet their wishes to #holidaywish

Through the use of a short code—56376—and a Twitter hashtag—#holidaywish—eBay leveraged the ubiquity of text messaging to enable Wishes to be sent via mobile devices.

To ensure a fully mobile experience, mobile Web pages were created so that those who text in can see the up-to-date wishes on their mobile phones at

When people text-in their wish, they are given the mobile URL to view the most current wishes in the stream and see all locations for the holiday tour.

Text-message wishes were also streamed to and on the side of the traveling eBay Mobile Boutique via an LED-screen ticker.

“We used mobile to enhance the 360-degree turnkey approach,” Ms. Gomez said. “The Wishes Stream was a great mobile complement to the online and offline campaign.”

All consumers who text-in a wish get the following text message:

“4more on eBay Mobile Boutique: 4wishes on UR phone: Text STOP 2quit, HELP 4info. Msg&data rates may apply.”

Mobile users who click through to the wishes mobile Web pages will see the live stream of wishes that they and others have texted in.

In addition, eBay has launched the Deals application, providing iPhone and iPod touch owners with a constant stream of the best deals across hundreds of millions of listings (see story).

IPhone users who text-in their wishes will get routed to an iPhone-optimized mobile Web page, which features a direct link to eBay’s iPhone application.

With these mobile initiatives, eBay wanted to reach savvy shoppers seeking convenience during this holiday season.

Marketing campaigns such as this tie in to eBay’s mobile commerce strategy, driving traffic and sales.

“EBay continues to see an uptick in mobile commerce, particularly over the last year,” Ms. Gomez said. “As the user experience continues to improve on handset devices, more and more people will turn to their phones to shop and buy.

“Marketing campaigns, such as the holiday campaign, helps eBay generate awareness of our applications while providing a fun user experience to our customers,” she said.

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Dan Butcher is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach him at

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