Buying Goes Mobile

More and more traders are now doing their browsing and buying through their mobile phones, especially since Trade Me launched their iPhone application in November 2010.

Are the numbers significant? Actually, yes:

  • In April, around 1.5 million Trade Me sessions (just over 1% of all sessions) occurred via a mobile device
  • Over three-quarters of those visits occurred via the Trade Me iPhone app

Mobile browsers don’t only use the iPhone — Nokia, Android, iPads and Blackberries are also in evidence (visits to Trade Me’s mobile site at http://m.trademe.co.nz represent 23% of total mobile visits). But the growth in mobile has definitely been driven by the iPhone app – mobile activity started to move upwards noticeably when Trade Me launched the app 7 months ago.

The take-up for the new app has exceeded all expectations. Trade Me estimated they’d get perhaps 50,000 downloads in the first seven months — so far they’ve hit over 125,000, with more than 15,000 downloads of the application in each of March, April and May.

Here are some of the drool-worthy stats for the Trade Me iPhone app:

  • 42,000 users sessions per day
  • 275,000 sessions per week
  • 1 million sessions per month (1.5 million sessions in May)
  • 86,000 people have used the app since it was released

The most used functions via the iPhone app: search, checking watchlists.

So are these mobile browsers actually buying stuff this way on Trade Me, or do they just like to watch?

Check out these numbers:

  • 3000 items were sold on Trade Me via the iPhone app last week – note that this is just successful winning actions (bid/fixed price offer/buy now). The level of participation in auctions is much higher as not everyone wins just because they are bidding from an iPhone! In fact, 14,000 people place a bid via iPhone app in a typical week.
  • And these bids aren’t just for cheap stuff.  The biggest recent sale was a motorhome that sold for $140,000 via the iPhone app.

Implications for Sellers

Yes, 99% of Trade Me transactions still take place via the good old web browser, so the iPhone isn’t going to take over the world of Trade Me anytime soon. But, with more than a million Trade Me visits a month happening via iPhone, you should at least be aware of the way your auction listing is displayed on an iPhone — and what you need to do to achieve the best result for your listings.

First, let’s take a look at how the iPhone displays the results of searches:


Note that only part of the headline — typically the first 25 characters — is displayed on this initial screen (just half of the 50 characters that you’re allowed to use in headlines). Suddenly the order of the words in your listing headlines has become really important — put the key benefit first.

You’ll also note from the above example that only really short headlines (such as the first listing) have space to display the “Pay Now” symbol and the “New” designation. It’s up to you to decide whether including those elements is important enough to forego making as much use as possible of the Headline space.

Next, let’s drill down and have a look at how a typical listing is displayed on the iPhone:

Not a lot of words displayed on that first screen. It’s all about the picture of the product. Suddenly, images (and especially that first photo on display) have increased dramatically in importance. Don’t settle for anything less than compelling for your primary photo.

Too Soon?

If you just look at the usage percentages, 1% seems a pretty minor share for mobile phones — hardly worth the effort. But take a look at smartphone penetration overall and you get a different perspective. By the end of 2010, it’s estimated that around 25% of Kiwis were carrying smartphones — and something like 80% of new mobile phone sales are of smartphone models. Since most of us change our phones every couple of years, we can expect smartphone penetration to increase dramatically here in NZ (as elsewhere around the world). Within the next twelve months, it’s likely that smartphone ownership will be in the majority — and many of those people will be starting to transact on Trade Me via mobile as they get more comfortable with the capabilities of their new toys.

Are you ready?

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