Last month, I touched on several ways that businesses could use apps as an alternate channel to reach mobile searchers. Online retailers have a couple opportunities to use apps in this way, by tapping into the eBay and Amazon marketplaces. Let’s take a closer look at eBay, and some strategies for using it to extend the reach of your existing catalog.

Starting At The Desktop

Before mobile was part of the equation, there was a well-established practice for leveraging eBay for online retail. Of course, it goes without saying that many retailers use eBay as their sole storefront, taking advantage of the existing audience, feedback scores, and shipping options to make DIY selling pretty easy, even for the novice.

But, when retailers start expecting heavy business, eBay’s fees and commissions start becoming painful. For many product categories, the combined eBay and PayPal fees can approach 15%.

For this reason, high-volume sellers often elect to run their own stores on other platforms. But, even these retailers will sometimes keep a toehold in eBay, to get access to their huge audience and drum-up some brand awareness.

Toeholds In Mobile Search

It’s this toehold strategy that translates well to mobile. For a successful store with a conventional desktop-oriented website, jumping into the mobile market is a daunting task. The three biggest questions facing you:

  • Is there a market for my products among mobile shoppers?
  • How do I reach those mobile shoppers?
  • What will be the upfront and ongoing costs?

In short: will it be worth the effort?

The toehold strategy can help you get past this roadblock. As with desktop-based retail, eBay offers access to a huge audience, and the comScore numbers for their mobile activities are just as impressive.

The fee structure that causes so much heartburn in a desktop scenario still applies here – unlike PPC advertising, there’s no price break for posting products on eBay Mobile. But, while eBay’s cost equation won’t change in this situation, yours certainly will.

Buy.com listings on eBay Mobile

Even the largest online retailers make use of eBay to expand their customer base. Buy.com currently has nearly 1.6 million listings on eBay.

Why Buy The Cow…

The biggest hurdle to reaching mobile customers is making your store mobile friendly. If you were lucky enough to build your store on a platform that supports mobile from the start – great! You may only need a few content tweaks to optimize your SKUs for mobile shoppers.

But, many platforms aren’t mobile ready, and so, Web development costs need to be factored in. As we all know, quality development work isn’t cheap, and that applies doubly to mobile development.

This is why eBay’s fee structure suddenly makes a lot of sense. You get a mobile storefront and instant access to a large audience of shoppers, all without the upfront planning and investment that a mobile website would require. Suddenly, that 15% doesn’t sound so bad.

Best of all, eBay gives you the ability to start early, see how mobile shoppers react to your products, and run experiments to see how you can meet their needs. With those learnings in your pocket (and some revenue, too) you can make more confident decisions about your next step in mobile retail.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | How To: Mobile Marketing | Mobile Search | Search Engines: Mobile Search Engines | Search Engines: Shopping Search Engines | Search Marketing: Mobile | Search Marketing: Shopping Search Marketing | SEO: Mobile Search

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About The Author: runs Skypromote, an SEO agency in Boston and NYC, and has been doing search since 1998. You can follow him on Twitter @SherwoodSEO.

Connect with the author via: Email



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