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EBay to drive mobile commerce innovation with open system


Mobile will play a big role for eBay as it migrates to an open ecommerce ecosystem that will enable developers to create new services and apps that enhance online and mobile shopping.

At its Innovate Developer Conference yesterday, eBay announced its new X.commerce open commerce ecosystem, a deeper integration with Facebook and PayPal Access, which lets consumers use their PayPal login information to pay on retailers’ sites. The moves point to eBay’s desire to play a bigger role in all types of commerce, including mobile commerce.

 “By providing these tools to developers, you have something that can really push forward both mobile and online commerce” said Nick Holland, senior analyst at Yankee Group, Boston.

“Once you open up to developers, you get a great deal of creativity and innovation,” he said.

“It is a pretty useful bag of tools allowing a developer to have something valuable to offer consumers. I haven’t seen anything else as holistic as this.”

$5 billion in mobile
EBay also said that it will do $5 billion in retail on the eBay mobile app this year. Just a few months ago, eBay had put the number at $4 billion.

The announcements this week reflect a new push toward encouraging third-party developers to create ecommerce as well as mobile commerce applications using eBay’s tools.

The deeper integration with Facebook includes letting Magento developers use Facebook’s Open Graph in their apps. GSI developers will soon be able to do the same thing.

The Open Graph is a map of Facebook users’ connections.

By integrating with Facebook, this could enable developers using eBay’s tools to create a more personalized shopping experience.

“The fusion of mobile, social networks and payments is something that eBay is connecting the dots on,” Mr. Holland said.

“There are a couple of battlegrounds for payment networks, whether you are talking about MasterCard and Visa or PayPal  one is mobile and the other social,” he said. “All of these companies are looking to become that trusted payment brand for those channels and right now it is up for grabs.”

PayPal Access
There was also news from PayPal, which is introducing PayPal Access.

PayPal Access provides an identity for consumers across all retailers on the Web so they do not have to create a new login for each retailer they shop.

“We’ve all been talking about wallets  eBay is not looking to have a wallet solution,” said Mark Beccue, senior analyst at ABI Research, New York. “PayPal wants to woo merchants and get them to use PayPal and is looking for ways to embed PayPal when you are shopping online with a retailer.

Merchants are interested in increasing their business  that’s not anything new,” he said. “What eBay believes it can  bring to the tablet is all of the consumers that use PayPal, that they can leverage that in some way.

“They are looking to enhance a consumers shopping experience shopping.”

EBay’s moves come as the line between online and offline retail continue to blur thanks to smartphones that enable users to compare prices will inside stores, find more information about products and other shopping activities.

X.commerce will provide tools to merchants and retailers to expand from physical stores into mobile and social.

EBay plans to bring together a full suite of services so developers can drive innovation for merchants.

This includes Magento, Milo, RedLaser, Zong and Where, which are open today. The company also plans to open up GSI and said it will make more acquisitions to further build out its commerce services.

RedLaser enables users to scan a bar code in-store to compare prices while Zong enables carrier billing for mobile purchases.

EBay also said it will integrate Omniture into Magento for analytics.

Magento helps retailers build online storefronts and GSI handles order fulfillment.

“It will be interesting to see how eBay goes about merchant acquisition,” Yankee Group’s Mr. Holland said. “They probably need to offer something more compelling than cheaper transactions, such anything around loyalty, to cross the physical and online worlds.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York