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EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2715 - January 11, 2012 - ISSN 1539-5065    3 of 5

Online Selling Trends Part 3 - Mobile Shopping

By Ina Steiner
January 11, 2012

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EcommerceBytes asked a panel of experts a series of questions about the challenges and opportunities facing online sellers in the year ahead. In part one, we looked at the biggest challenges facing online sellers in 2012, and part two looked at the opportunities available to sellers. Today, we examine the impact of mobile shopping on online sellers. (A list of participants is included at the end of this article.)

How will mobile shopping impact online sellers - and how will it impact your company?

adMarketplace CEO Jamie Hill: Mobile shopping will remain early stages in 2012. The majority of transactions will be "app-related" but there will be a lot of mobile usage around in-store price comparison and reviews. Once mobile grows out of its walled-garden stage, it will become much more transactional.

Bonanza founder Bill Harding: There's no question that mobile is going to be a huge part of the web in general, and by extension, online shopping. For those that want to sell through their own website, they'll need to ensure that they support mobile browsing in its many forms. For those on marketplaces, being mobile-compatible should be something that gets taken care of automatically for them. Of course, there will be some lag time between when the "big marketplaces" get their site mobile and when "everyone else" does.

For Bonanza, we're hoping to build a mobile experience that isn't just a simpler version of our main site, but instead a more immersive experience that leverages the unique opportunities of the mobile platform. We are planning to have our mobile site launched in Q1 or Q2 of this year. Our sellers won't have to make any changes to their listings - the only difference to them will be an increase in orders placed by mobile buyers.

Dwolla founder Ben Milne: Ecommerce stemmed from retail and became an obvious extension in its own direction, but that line is going to start circling back in 2012. Mobile technologies will continue to provide shoppers with access to digital information on physical goods and services, and while this may be the foundation for mobile payments, it won't be a drastic overnight change.

When we reverse the question and ask, "What role will the mobile wallet play in online shopping," I see mobile potentially being a value add, not a detractor. While our focus is building a payment network that moves funds between all types of shopping carts, mobile wallets, and commerce products, I'm definitely intrigued in seeing which products come to market and offer that experience.

Liquidation.com Vice President of Marketing Rob Caskey: The ability to offer a satisfying mobile shopping experience is no longer a luxury - it's a requirement. At a time when smartphones and apps like Red Laser make it possible to comparison shop while standing in a bricks and mortar retailer, it's more important than ever to ensure that your products are easily found, and that you're delivering the most competitive combination of price and customer experience.

We are seeing mobile access of Liquidation.com growing steadily, with customers able to bid on auctions from wherever they are. As a result, we see more competitive bidding and more satisfied customers.

MyStoreCredit founder Brian J. Lawe: Two years ago, I was not a believer in mobile. I just couldn't imagine buyers using their small iPhone screens to search for online items, let alone to buy them. I am no longer a doubting-Thomas. We see that fully 25% of all repeat buyer traffic we drive back to eBay seller pages comes from mobile phones. Read that again - 25%!!

Needless to say, I am now a believer! We are investing in making our applications more mobile friendly and creating a new mobile application.

Outright CEO Steven Aldrich: Most marketplaces have "mobilized" their websites, so if you're working with eBay, Etsy or Amazon, customers who are shopping from their mobile device can find your products. There will be more price competition because consumers will have complete transparency of pricing, but this may help instead of hurt online sellers. Why? Because consumers who were shopping online could easily compare prices and now that this capability is available on their mobile phone, they can be in a store and find your products.

Outright supports purchases made from our customers whether or not the purchase is made in person, online, or over the phone. All of that revenue flows through a merchant processor, a bank or a marketplace. And, in 2012, we'll be launching a unique mobile experience for Outright customers.

PageMage founder Chris Taylor: Mobile impacts the online shopping experience for buyers in so many ways from research to location to comparison shopping to purchase and more. Sellers need to understand how their buyers use mobile and determine what parts will impact their selling efforts.

From a Page Mage perspective, it opens up new opportunities for us to provide new applications for sellers on mobile platform. But from a Page Mage perspective, the core is understanding the buyers, the sellers and what we can provide of value.

Ruby Lane Director of Communications and New Business Development Palmer J. Pekarek: When I travel to antique and collectible shows, I see some very successful sellers using their mobile devices to show buyers inventory that may not be on display in their booths. This allows sellers to "make the sale" even if the inventory is off site.

We at Ruby Lane just want mobile users to have the best online shopping experience as possible. So looking at the photos of an item on an iPhone vs. an iPad is very different. The larger the screen to view the details of a collectible, the better.

What Do You Think?
Part one of this series on online selling trends is available in this EcommerceBytes news story, and part two is available on this page.

Part four will tackle tools and tips & tricks for online sellers, and asks, what's the one gadget every seller should have? (Part four is now available on this page.)

If you'd like to comment on these experts' answers or if you have your own thoughts about the challenges you face this year, let us know by participating in this discussion thread on EcommerceBytes forums.

The panelists come from a wide range of services and were selected not for the size of their companies, but for being on the front lines and working closely with retailers, particularly small online sellers:

adMarketplace CEO Jamie Hill (Pay-per-click ad platform)
Bonanza founder Bill Harding (Online marketplace)
Dwolla founder Ben Milne (Online payment service)
FitForCommerce Vice President Danielle Savin (Retail consultant)
Liquidation.com Vice President of Marketing Rob Caskey (Online marketplace)
MyStoreCredit founder Brian J. Lawe (Marketing service)
Outright CEO Steven Aldrich (Bookkeeping service for online sellers and entrepreneurs)
PageMage founder Chris Taylor (eBay marketing service)
Ruby Lane Director of Communications and New Business Development Palmer J. Pekarek (Online marketplace specializing in antiques and collectibles)

Comment on the EcommerceBytes Blog

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.

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