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US bank holiday weekend gives rise to increased mobile payments at eBay/PayPal

Thursday 29 November 2012 | 09:30 CET | Background

Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday saw a large increase in numbers of mobile uses for payments and sales at eBay and its units PayPal and GSI. According to eBay the increasing use of mobiles for purchasing goods and the availibility of new uses of the technology will make mobile shopping an important factor in this year's retail sales.

eBay reported a large increase in figures for mobile payments over the recent bank holiday weekend in the USA. During Thanksgiving eBay itself saw a rise of 133 percent in mobile volume transactions in the USA compared to Thanksgiving 2011, while its unit PayPal noticed an increase of 173 percent in global mobile payment volume compared to Thanksgiving a year earlier. Likewise eBay’s e-commerce unit GSI saw a growth of 170 percent in US mobile sales compared to a year ago.

The increases were not only taking place on Thanksgiving, a day where traditionally Americans get together with their families and so a day they are less likely to go out to the shops to purchase goods. The availability of shopping and purchasing via one’s mobile phone definitely seems be gaining ground as one can remain with one’s family but still buy the required/wanted goods.

Following Thanksgiving is Black Friday, which is regarded as the start of the Christmas shopping season. On Black Friday many retailers open their stores very early and offer promotions to kick start the holiday shopping season. These days some retailers even open late on Thanksgiving itself, meaning that Black Friday is starting earlier and earlier. On Black Friday eBay reported an increase of 153 percent in mobile volume transacted in the USA, compared to Black Friday 2011. PayPal saw its global mobile payment volume augmented by 193 percent compared to a year earlier and sister company GSI noticed a 198 percent rise in US mobile sales compared to Black Friday 2011.

Since 2005 the term Cyber Monday has been used to indicate the trend of people flocking back to work to shop via their fast internet connections at work, instead of having to rely on their slow ones at home. These days many people’s internet connections at home are just as fast as at work as well as having access to the internet via their mobile, for example when travelling to work.  Paypal stated that it saw a rise of 44 percent in payment volume on Cyber Monday 2012 compared with two days earlier, Black Friday 2012. Furthermore PayPal saw a growth of 166 percent in the number of customers who used a mobile device for shopping on Cyber Monday in 2012 as compared to in 2011 and GSI reported a 287 percent increase in US mobile sales compared to Cyber Monday 2011.

PayPal also reported that on Thanksgiving and Black Friday the hours of 12h – 13h were the times when customers around the globe used their mobile most frequently for shopping, while on Cyber Monday the favourite times were between 13h and 14h. On Black Friday in the USA customers most used their mobile for purchases through PayPal in Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and New York. According to PayPal’s blog these were also the cities where PayPal was used the most on Cyber Monday, albeit in a slightly different order, and the blog didn’t specify if that was for mobile purchases only or for all PayPal purchases on Cyber Monday.

According to eBay “smartphones and tablets, as well as more widespread use of broadband Internet connections at home, are beginning to disrupt the retail calendar as consumers become increasingly comfortable transacting online. It’s allowing them to shop earlier, taking advantage of sales days before Cyber Monday... More so than just online in general, mobile is solely responsible for this shift in the holiday retail calendar,” Steve Yankovich, eBay Inc.’s vice president of mobile, said. Mobile volume on eBay on Black Friday this year was 2.5 times higher than in 2011, with the site offering its iPhone app users exclusive access to mobile deals through Monday evening”. On eBay’s Holiday Media Center Yankovich also stated that he now calls Thursday through Monday the “Thanksgiving Roll,” a theory he said was proven by the transaction volume that eBay started to see on Thanksgiving. He noted that the e-tailer has added 1.8 million consumers — brand new to eBay via mobile — in the first three quarters of this year.

eBay’s recent focus on mobile has been the convergence between mobile and brick&mortar. Earlier this year they soft-launched eBay Now, which uses geo-sensing location technology from Milo and seamless payment options from PayPal to provide same-day shipping to consumers from hundreds of retailers in as fast as one hour. The minimum order amount is USD 25 and the delivery fee now is USD 5. According to Yankovich “users will get immediate satisfaction because someone will hand me what I bought in an hour. You can be on a park bench in Times Square and have it delivered to that bench, as opposed to a residential address. We have a map in the app. This is really changing the game — local shopping is a big deal this year”.



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