August 20, 2010, 1:43 PM

Half.com debuts a back-to-school iPhone app

The eBay company wants students to comparison shop for books.

Bill Siwicki

Managing Editor, Mobile Commerce

Lead Photo

a screenshot of the iPhone app

Half.com Inc., an eBay Inc. company, has introduced an iPhone app designed to help students comparison shop for deals on textbooks during the back-to-school shopping season. Notably, the Half.com iPhone app is the first eBay buying application to integrate bar code scanning technology, which eBay acquired earlier this year when it bought comparison shopping app RedLaser.

The app enables a shopper in any store to scan the bar code on an item using the iPhone’s built-in camera. The app then displays prices and information on that product from 80 million listings from Half.com’s more than 700,000 fixed-price merchandise sellers.

Textbooks is one of six main product categories featured on Half.com. The others are books, music, movies, games and game systems. The majority of items sold on Half.com are textbooks, with a spike in July through September for back-to-school, Half.com says.

“EBay has integrated bar code scanning technology into the app, making it easier than ever for students to comparison shop in their campus bookstores and find the best deals on textbooks, novels and more,” says Steve Yankovich, vice president of mobile platform at eBay. “And, the app’s Speedy Checkout reduces the friction of commerce, allowing users to buy with only a few quick clicks.”

Speedy Checkout enables access to a shopper’s Half.com online account, which contains payment and shipping information that is used automatically in the mobile checkout process so the shopper does not have to enter that information. The app also features social media sharing functions, enabling users to share favorite deals via Facebook, Twitter and e-mail.

Half.com is another in eBay’s growing line of apps, the most recent being one dedicated to eBay fashion shoppers that includes augmented reality technology, allowing shoppers to place articles of clothing atop their pictures. 70% of eBay’s mobile commerce sales come through apps while the other 30% comes through its m-commerce site, Yankovich tells Internet Retailer. The merchant has more than a dozen apps.

 

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