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Ebay talks mobile, voice shopping, Amazon

Ebay Australia on Monday set a new record for mobile shopping, with 1.8 million customers visiting the site on mobile devices.

Internet Retailing editor Heather McIlvaine spoke with Ebay’s chief financial officer and head of retail insights, Gavin Dennis, about the growing importance of mobile, the company’s recent move into voice shopping and the impact of Amazon’s launch.

Heather McIlvaine: Why do you think more customers are buying on their mobile phones this year than ever before?

Gavin Dennis: Mobile shopping is still growing in double digits in Australia and has overtaken desktop as Australia’s favourite way to shop online. This year more than ever, time-poor Aussies are taking advantage of the convenience of mobile and seeking out inspiration for their Christmas gifts anywhere, anytime.

HM: Do you find that customers buy different things on mobile than on desktop?

GD: Interestingly, the top categories purchased using mobile are baby products, dolls and bears, clothing, shoes and accessories and health and beauty products. We find our buyers tend to leave bigger investment items like technology and homewares for desktop and smaller, essential items are often purchased on the go via mobile.

HM: What are some of the lessons you think other retailers should take away from Ebay’s experience with mobile?

GD: As a retailer, you want to be where the customers are, and it’s clear from our data that mobile is key to reaching Aussie consumers. Ebay offers retailers of any size access to over 11.8 monthly unique users in Australia and more globally, providing them with a simple way to list products and access mobile shoppers online or via the Ebay app.

Providing convenience, a great range and unmatched prices through all touch-points, including mobile, is key to staying relevant in the online retail market.

HM: We’ve seen more retailers experiment with voice shopping in recent weeks. Is this something consumers are ready to embrace en masse, or is it confined to the early adopters?

GD: Australians are early adopters of technology and voice won’t be any different. By nature, voice is an easy-to-access interface so we expect even non-Ebay users to access our inventory of over 60 million through this technology. We see voice technology driving retail experiences in the future as it has in other markets.

HM: What has the uptake been like so far for Ebay’s partnership with Google Assistant?

GD: So far, our partnership with Google Assistant has received a great reception among consumers and we believe the added Ebay Gift Finder feature will drive even more shoppers to try it. Our partnership with Google has enhanced the online retail experience by unlocking a variety of new ways to buy and sell on the eBay marketplace, and we expect appetite for this kind of innovative technology to continue to grow.

HM: Has Ebay seen an impact from Amazon’s launch in Australia last week? 

GD: Ebay is an online marketplace that is not a seller and therefore not in competition with retail of any kind. We aren’t successful unless our sellers are and there is no comparison to the range that Ebay offers. The Australian retail landscape will continue to change and evolve, and we believe this will be one of the most dynamic times for Australian retail.

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