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EBay sees mobile growth catching up to desktop

Ebay’s mobile application has been gaining in popularity, catching up to the platform’s more popular desktop site, according to a Q4 earnings call.

The online auctioning site saw three points of mobile growth in the fourth quarter of 2016, with the app’s reviews on app stores being higher than they have ever been before. The news is demonstrative of the increasing popularity of mobile versions of various platforms compared to their desktop versions.

“Our mobile platform growth continues to reaccelerate driven by ongoing improvements we’re making to the customer experience,” said Devin Wenig, CEO of eBay, from a transcript by SeekingAlpha. “With the launch of our 55th update in October, our app reviews are the highest they’ve ever been.

“Customers are responding positively to these improvements leading to a three points of marketplace mobile growth acceleration in Q4.”

Rising mobile tide
While many platforms and brands that arose after mobile had come to be ubiquitous presence in our lives are comfortable working on mobile, many companies that were formed before then are still adjusting to the new reality.

For many, having a mobile presence was optional, an interesting thing that you could do, but you did not really need to.

Those times are gone. Nowadays it is absolutely imperative for brands to be present on mobile if they want to survive.

With mobile penetration as high as it is and the channel increasingly edging out desktop as the most popular way to interact with the digital world, it is an absolute necessity for brands to be able to meet consumers where they are.

The ones that do are likely to see successes when doing so.

EBay, speaking on a conference call about its fourth quarter earnings, revealed that the company is seeing an increasing amount of engagement on mobile, with an extra three points of the marketplace going to mobile in the last quarter.

The online retailer also revealed that reviews on its mobile app are higher than they have ever been before.

“To drive the best choice for our consumers, we have adopted a retail focused mindset to more actively managing inventory and marketing around key retail moments,” Mr. Wenig said. “We have also launched key integrations with several partners including inkFrog and BigCommerce enabling a broad set of small and medium sized merchants to scale their businesses on eBay.

“Sellers are responding to our efforts by bringing more relevant inventory into our marketplace and we’ve seen accelerating growth in the number of business sellers on eBay throughout 2016.”

Mobile growth rate
This success highlights the power of mobile to drive new engagement in something that has existed for years.

EBay has been a household name since its debut over a decade ago, but mobile continues to bring it new customers and growth in a way that desktop simply cannot do.

The online retailer has been ramping up its own commitment to mobile in the past few months, debuting a number of new features and partnerships to make its mobile presence more robust.

For example, eBay recently partnered with theSkimm for a campaign walking customers through the process of shopping on eBay’s mobile app (see story).

On a more logistical side, the company has also updated its mobile app to include more robust browsing and comparing options for customers (see story).

EBay also has stakes in several other mobile applications, many of which are doing quite well.

StubHub, its mobile ticketing platform, has seen particularly good performance as well.

“Our StubHub platform continues to be well positioned as a leading global ticket marketplace,” Mr. Wenig said. “Q4 was also a record quarter for StubHub with strong MLB and theater performance offset by lapping significant growth acceleration from last year and softer year-over-year NFL volume and a weaker concert landscape.

“Despite this quarter’s growth declaration, StubHub’s prospects in the U.S. and internationally remained strong. I believe we can continue to maintain our market leading position in the U.S. and our acquisition and ongoing integration of TicketbiS is driving significant international growth.”