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EBay puts mobile at center of offline push

EBay has significantly updated its iPhone application with new sharing and personalized features that highlight the online heavyweight’s ambitions to own all parts of the shopping experience.

The online marketplace has rolled out a new “free in-store pickup” feature that is intended at driving sales for merchants, and Best Buy and Autozone are the first two to be announced. EBay’s app also includes new social features such as Pinterest integration and Airdrop from Apple’s iOS 7 operating system that places eBay in more direct competition with mass merchants and retailers.

“With six less shopping days this year, timing is everything,” said Kevin Hurst, vice president of mobile products at eBay, San Jose, CA.

“By expanding our local mobile offerings, with updates like in-store pick-up, we are helping provide solutions for the busy holiday shopper,” he said.

In-store pickup
One of the biggest changes that eBay has made to its app is in-store pickup for select products that are available at Best Buy and Autozone.

Consumers are able to filter down search results to only show in-store pickup or they can find the in-store option within the View Item screen.

Once shoppers click on the button, they can view maps of local stores and can select a time to pickup their order.

In addition to making shopping more convenient, the new shopping option underscores eBay’s ambitions to move into real-world transactions to more actively compete with other mobile payment options such as Google Wallet.

The “free in-store pickup” feature is only available in the United States and Britain. Additional merchants are also expected to be announced soon.

A page showing which Best Buy stores a product is available at

Buy now
Ebay’s app now includes AirDrop sharing, which lets consumers share content to nearby friends and family members.

With eBay eyeing a bigger role in ecommerce this holiday season, being able to share gift ideas to friends and family members quickly could give  the company a significant advantage over competitor shopping apps, especially if the company is able to eventually add payments to the sharing option.

The app also pulls in a user’s personalized feed directly into the homepage of the app. The feed is aimed at helping consumers discover new items based on their interests.

EBay has also rolled out a new tool to the app that Pinterest began offering earlier this year. Consumers can share items directly to their Pinterest boards from the app.

Consumers can also swipe through images directly from the View Item screen, and there are new features for sellers to streamline the process of listing an item online.

EBay’s iPhone app

Better shopping experiences
EBay has thrown a significant amount of weight behind mobile over the years.

For example, eBay was one of the first to develop a smart watch app earlier this year for Samsung Galaxy devices (see story).

Additionally, eBay updated its fashion and automotive apps in August for a better multiscreen shopping experience (see story)

With showrooming only growing as a bigger concern for bricks-and-mortar retailers this year, there will be a bigger emphasis on branded apps that play up loyalty to compete with online heavyweights such as eBay and Amazon.

?”Last year was the year of ?showrooming? – 2014 will be the year that mobile apps extend the retail experience more deeply into shopping behavior,” said Li-at Karpel Gurwicz, marketing director at Conduit Mobile, Foster City, CA.

Ms. Gurwicz is not affiliated with eBay. She commented based on her expertise on the subject.

“We’ll continue to see innovations in price comparisons, but that’s only the start,” she said.

“Also, expect to see deeper integration with apps and loyalty programs?,? special ?offers, ?incentives, and mobile ?marketing campaigns? ?to boost ecommerce?.?????????”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York