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EBay exec: Mobile innovation enhances transactions, research capabilities for customers

NEW YORK – An eBay executive at Forrester’s Marketing 2016 Forum claimed that the online marketplace continues to optimize its mobile offerings from both transactional and research-oriented standpoints in the hopes of giving more control to its buyers and sellers.

During the “Thriving in the Post-Digital Age” session, executives from eBay and Forrester Research doled out advice for marketers seeking to make additional innovations within their digital platforms and foster greater company transparency. EBay, in particular, considers itself one of the first founders of ecommerce, and keeps this status in mind when pinpointing which new platforms, channels and tools its customers require to have a successful purchasing or selling experience.

“We were one of the very first to put mobile into action,” said Suzy Deering, chief marketing officer of eBay. “We continue to innovate off of our mobile experience, both from a transaction standpoint as well as making it a research tool for buyers and sellers.”

Customers in control
Ms. Deering affirmed that consumers nowadays have much more to say in their conversations with brands than they have in the past, a fact that must be celebrated by companies being more transparent.

Brands should aim to redefine authenticity and connectivity, and steer clear from undertaking a one-size-fits-all approach.

“[We have to] make sure we know how to connect in a very relevant and meaningful way with our customers, and make it about them, not about us,” Ms. Deering said.

EBay ensures it continuously listens to its customers – which consist of both buyers and sellers – and adjusts its offerings accordingly. For example, close to 80 percent of its listed items enable consumers to buy them now, while 63 percent of products ship for free.

The constant connectivity of mobile makes it simpler for individuals to make impulse purchases, which lends credence to eBay’s decision to introduce more buy-now options rather than solely rely on the auction model. Additionally, its buyers and sellers asked for more mobile tools, underscoring the importance of catering to on-the-go users.

“We’re building those capabilities as we move on with our mobile app, and we’ll keep innovating there,” Ms. Deering said.

The marketplace is also looking into proximity targeting and the importance of leveraging local data to drive sales.

Furthermore, brands must continue being aspirational in their efforts to build long-lasting relationships with consumers and offer them more control over their purchasing experiences, a feat that can be accomplished by meeting individuals on the platforms they frequent.

Mobile platforms can also be used to help brands tell different elements of their overarching story or message.

“This digital world isn’t going away; it’s just going to get more complex, and we need to celebrate that,” Ms. Deering said.

Post-digital marketing
A Forrester analyst also took the stage to discuss how brands should approach their marketing tactics in the post-digital age. She advised them to focus on three types of experiences: frictionless, anticipatory and immersive.

The paramount piece of advice was to stick to original brand messages and deliver on promises to customers.

“Most brands have an excruciatingly hard time doing this consistently,” said Shar VanBoskirk, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research.

Companies must be cognizant of the fact that mobile platforms and social media have ushered in a new era of transparency in which any negative brand interactions are aired for the world to see.

Emerging technologies such as Facebook Live enable individuals to live stream interactions with company representatives, which opens the door for less-than-positive experiences to be exposed. This means that marketers must work tirelessly to provide the most optimal customer service across the board.

“There’s no room anymore for small goofs, because customers are entitled,” Ms. VanBoskirk said.