eBay looks to the 'next big boom' as wearables sales surge

eBay is looking to wearables for the next big boom, as the e-commerce site sees a massive spike in the number of people shopping for smart watches, as well as customers shopping on them.

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Claire Reilly was a video host, journalist and producer covering all things space, futurism, science and culture. Whether she's covering breaking news, explaining complex science topics or exploring the weirder sides of tech culture, Claire gets to the heart of why technology matters to everyone. She's been a regular commentator on broadcast news, and in her spare time, she's a cabaret enthusiast, Simpsons aficionado and closet country music lover. She originally hails from Sydney but now calls San Francisco home.
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Claire Reilly
2 min read

eBay's new Apple Watch app. eBay

Just days after it launched its first app for Apple Watch, eBay is talking up the future of wearables after seeing a massive increase in sales for smart watches and wristbands on its Australian site.

The figures come out of a new eBay report, conducted by technology research firm Telsyte, which examines Australians' technology buying habits. Digging into more than 100 million technology-related searches and transactions on the e-commerce portal, it's the first time eBay has examined data from a particular product category on its platform, and the results paint an interesting picture of Australian digital consumption.

According to "The Economics of Electronics" report, more than 50 percent of eBay shoppers bought in the technology category in 2014, buying items from more than 400,000 sellers that trade in electronics.

When it comes to what those shoppers are buying, eBay says "the next big boom" is in the wearables space.

"As soon as smart wristbands became widely available, Australians embraced them -- buying 50,000% more smart wristbands on eBay in December 2014 than they did in January of that year," the report read.

The figures come off a strong product release cycle, including devices from Samsung, LG, Motorola, Asus, Sony and Huawei, with the recent Apple Watch focusing "mainstream attention" on the smart watch market.

eBay saw a massive increase in the number of 'smart' wristbands sold last year. eBay/Telsyte

But according to the report, Australians aren't just shopping for more wearables -- eBay also says the devices are changing the way we shop.

While the uptick in wearables sales is presumably not only good for eBay's bottom line, it's also good news for the roll-out of its mobile apps, as more people get more opportunities to shop on more devices.

According to eBay Australia's newly-appointed Head of Product Marshall Kim, the rise in wearables is resulting in a change in the way customers shop, letting them click to buy on smaller screens at any time.

"We're moving from commerce on the couch to commerce at a glance," he said.

"Our consumption time is really decreasing. On eBay, we talk about something called 'snack time mobile' -- in the time it takes to eat a Mars Bar, people are purchasing stuff. And there's statistics saying that more than half of Australians will shop online during a TV ad. TV ads go for a few minutes? They've bought something by the end of that."

While the company has worked to adjust its platform so shoppers get a good experience on mobiles and wearables just as they would on a desktop, Kim says eBay's customers have also changed their behaviour.

"The confidence levels of our consumers [on mobile devices] are growing phenomenally," he said. "Where we used to buy cheap iPhone cases from China, which is low-risk, now they're buying a car on a mobile every 20 minutes in Australia alone."