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EBay bets on Google’s AMP for faster mobile Web browsing

Recognizing the increasingly important role that mobile search plays in the shopping journey, eBay is leveraging Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages framework to deliver simple, accessible and fast browsing experiences when shoppers click on a link in an external platform.

While Google’s AMP was initially rolled out for publishing-based content, eBay is betting it can improve browsing experiences for products. While the initial push is focused more on browsing than sales, eBay also believes AMP has promise for ecommerce and is working with Google to build in more components, such as Add to Cart.

“EBay’s move to leverage Google AMP is significant because it demonstrates a keen awareness of today’s mobile shopper,” said Chris Mason, CEO of Branding Brand. “Shoppers expect convenient and fast mobile experiences, which is why customer exit rates steadily increase on smartphone sites as page load time increases.

“For example, if a retailer’s page on a smartphone doesn’t load within 5 seconds, exit rate increases 10 percent,” he said.

“Retailers will monitor eBay’s transition to AMP to understand the correlation between site performance and sales, but they might hesitate to adopt the technology because of the limitations to custom development and styling.”

In-store price comparisons
With the mobile Web being eBay’s highest growing sector, the retailer wants to consistently drive mobile browsers who may be searching for products to a solid, fast user experience when they click on a link in search results. These users may be in a store and interested in comparing prices but having a hard time getting the information they need because mobile networks can be slow.

Mobile searchers are also often not sure what experience they are going to get when they click on a link from a mobile device. They could get a mobile optimized Web site, a desktop-centric site or they could get an ad.

With AMP, eBay hopes to be able to deliver an experience that is optimized for speed, providing more context for users and enabling them to see relevant item listings very quickly so they can make comparisons.

EBay has launched an AMP version of the browsing experience for numerous products in addition to normal mobile Web pages. The goal is to leverage structured data and machine learning to enable shopping across a range of value, from great savings to best-selling products.

For example, users who conduct popular queries such as “camera drones” and “Sony PlayStation” from a mobile browser will see the new AMP-based browsing experience.

The mobile link
EBay reports that the best benefit it sees from leveraging AMP is that it is improving the experience for users who come to eBay from external platforms such as Google or Twitter.

AMP was sufficient for building a basic product for viewing ecommerce pages, although users will not be able to do actions such as Add to Cart. However, AMP’s component list continues to grow.

EBay has partnered with Google to work on filling in other missing pieces such as tracking, A/B testing and auto-complete. Another goal is to create seamless transitions from the AMP view to a regular page view.

Going forward, eBay is considering using AMP for its own search.

The new browsing experience will next be rolled out to desktop and native.

New browsing experiences
AMP looked like a promising solution for eBay because a portion of the traffic to the new browsing experience is coming from search engines.

Because AMP is a collection of best practices for building mobile Web pages, eBay was able to incorporate these into its regular development process. This enabled eBay to reuse most of the UI components between its non-AMP and AMP browse page, resulting in less forking in code.

“Only 32 percent of smartphone-optimized sites load in less than 5 seconds – 15 percent of desktop sites on smartphones meet this benchmark – so, even with the potential limitations to custom development for brands leveraging Google AMP, speed enhancements could improve a customer’s time on site, and lead to more conversions,” Mr. Mason said.