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EBay iPad users spend 50pc more than PC Web users

GRAPEVINE, TX – An eBay executive said that the average spend via its iPad application is 50 percent higher than the PC Web average during a panel at the National Retail Federation’s conference.

Many industry experts have focused on the iPad’s potential to revolutionize media consumption, but as it continues to gain popularity, it may end up an even bigger game-changer for ecommerce. Predictions of the iPad’s impact on retail range from improving the effectiveness of TV and radio advertisements, to changing the time of day when Web sales peak, to opening the wallet of the technophobe for online shopping.

“Apple has sold 3 million-plus iPads in less than 3 months, making it one of the most successful consumer electronics launches ever,” said Munjal Shah, cofounder/CEO of and head of commerce sales at Google, Mountain View, CA. “It only took 28 days to reach 1 million units sold.

“The iPad is the first mobile device where ecommerce really flourishes,” he said. “The iPad has better conversion rates than smartphones.

“New platforms such as tablets let you strengthen your relationship with existing customers or completely reinvent your brand.”

Mr. Shah projects that tablet sales will exceed 50 million units per year by 2012, with about half of those being iPads.

The iPad may only be months old, but retailers who have pioneered iPad application development, in-store integration and Web site optimization have already acquired important learnings for what can make or break the success of a customer’s iPad experience.

Success stories include the Gilt Groupe’s iPad application, which comprised 3 percent of sales in first two days after its launch.

The question is not if retailers should act with regards to the iPad, but how they should execute their iPad consumer experience for maximum effectiveness.

EBay Inc. has been doing a healthy mobile commerce business for all of its brands, including applications for eBay, PayPal, and StubHub.

EBay is on track to do $1.5 billion in mobile revenue this year, with 30 percent of that via the mobile Web, the rest via applications.

The eBay for iPad application features a gallery of the latest eBay offerings and daily deals with free shipping.

Users can log in at any time without interrupting their product searches. They can watch, bid and buy items using the application, although it does not have selling capability.

The application was built in five weeks, and it was out at the time of the iPad’s launch. It has about 85 percent of the PC Web site’s capabilities.

However, it has actually outperformed all of eBay’s other properties.

“The eBay iPhone app has higher engagement rates than the [PC Web] site, and we are seeing average buy sizes 50 percent higher on the iPad than on PCs—iPad users are converting at a much higher rate,” said Han Yuan, director of engineering, platform business solutions and mobile at eBay Inc., San Jose, CA.

Looking at unique visitors who buy something via eBay’s mobile products, on iPhone users spend $65 on an average weekly basis, and iPad users spend an average of $85 each week.

“The engagement is significantly higher for both our iPhone and iPad products,” Mr. Yuan said. “We believe that transactions across all mobile products, including the iPad, are about 70 percent accretive, meaning consumers are transacting in places where they previously couldn’t.

“Our iPad app is actually easier to use than our Web site.”
Online wine retail giant’s mobile timeline included an API for third-party consumption followed by an iPhone application in December 2009, which has achieved 100,000-plus downloads.

The company decided to build an iPad application before it even built a mobile-optimized Web site, and it launched in July. It benefited tremendously from Apple featuring its application in the App Store.

The iPad application has achieved 8,000-plus downloads in two months, and another version is in the works slated for release in November.

The company also wants to get onto other operating systems such as Android in the near future.

“Our iPad app metrics surpass our [PC Web] site metrics, but they are similar to our iPad Safari metrics,” said Cam Fortin, director of business development at, San Francisco. “We were quick to market—the app came out a month and a half after the iPad launched.

“Usage has been fairly similar, except iPad users are much more focused on people buying wine for themselves, versus the Web site, which is 60 percent gift-purchasing,” he said.

“Our iPhone app was huge for customer acquisition, especially after we were featured on the front page of the App Store, and it’s been the same with the iPad—it’s been great for customer acquisition as well.”

Wet Seal
While many of its competitors are still wondering where mobile fits in, apparel and accessories retailer Wet Seal has gone ahead and tackled mobile commerce head-on with good results (see story).

The mall-based apparel retailer’s target demographic is females ages 13-19.

Last October, Wet Seal launched an iPhone application as part of its cross-channel strategy to integrate the best features of its online presence with its customers’ in-store experience.

The key feature of this application lets Wet Seal shoppers see thousands of suggested outfits using styles they find while shopping in the retailer’s stores (see story).

Wet Seal recently launched an iPad application primarily to enhance its in-store shopping experience.

“The iPhone app we launched last year has been very successful, Jon Kubo, chief information officer of The Wet Seal Inc., Foothill Ranch, CA. “During back-to-school we had close to 1 million outfit views per week via that app alone.

“Now, as a cross-channel retailer, we’re trying to understand the iPad as a tool not just for engagement while they’re sitting at home,” he said. “Retailers are looking at a couple factors—can I put a device in the store like an iPad, iPod touch or kiosk that will this help us assist the customer.

“If I mount our iPad app in the wall of the dressing room, our teenage customers can put in the style they want to see and the app shows all the different ways they can wear it.”

Here is the iPad commerce panel:

Final Take’s Mr. Fortin