eBay makes mobile push with Apple Watch app

The e-commerce company has also updated the search function on its mobile apps for iOS and Android.

Ben Fox Rubin Former senior reporter
Ben Fox Rubin was a senior reporter for CNET News in Manhattan, reporting on Amazon, e-commerce and mobile payments. He previously worked as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal and got his start at newspapers in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Ben Fox Rubin
2 min read

eBay joins other retailers, including Target and Amazon, with its new Apple Watch app. eBay

eBay is continuing its focus on mobile, unveiling Tuesday a new Apple Watch app and tweaks to its smartphone apps.

With the e-commerce company's Apple Watch app, people will be able to to see an overview of their notifications, as well as the items they are bidding on, selling and watching. eBay can also offer up push notifications to help buyers keep tabs on the items they're watching and help sellers quickly see customer messages.

eBay started offering smartwatch apps about two years ago with similar functions, such as for the Samsung Galaxy Gear and Pebble. But, the Apple Watch -- which went on sale in April -- is expected to dominate the smartwatch market going forward, so it's an important platform for the company to reach. Amazon, a major rival, came to the Apple Watch in April.

"Our goal is to make it relevant to users and not obnoxious," John Tapley, eBay's senior product manager for mobile and wearables, said of the new app in an interview. "We're just at the start of it, so we'll continue to evolve the feature set over time."

eBay is joining a growing list of e-commerce companies and retailers creating Apple Watch apps, with all of these firms hoping to follow the trend of customers migrating away from personal computers and more toward smartphones and smartwatches. Now, over 50 percent of users reach eBay from its mobile apps, the company said, so it's critical for the company to be where its customers are. Staying relevant to those consumers is also important for eBay as it plans to separate from its faster-growing PayPal unit later this year.

Other retail players on the Apple Watch include Target, which created a shopping list app; Amazon, which allows search and purchases on its app; and Fandango, which lets users display their movie tickets on the watch, though the app doesn't yet allow for direct purchases.

eBay on Tuesday also said it updated its apps on Apple's iPhones and iPads and Google's Android mobile operating system to improve the search function, so people looking for a laptop don't end up getting results filled with laptop cords or chargers. Also, people can now more easily search by country on their mobile devices. Those improvements are part of eBay's broader push, executives said, to make its website and apps more like storefronts and less like a classifieds listing page.