August 28, 2013, 2:23 PM

eBay goes universal with its fashion and motors iOS apps

A universal app is a single mobile app that displays content optimized by device.

Lead Photo

eBay Motors iPad app

EBay Inc. has long been at the forefront of mobile commerce—particularly when it comes to apps. In 2010, when mobile commerce first began to truly resonate with consumers and bring in meaningful sales for e-retailers, eBay announced a commitment to launch an app for every occasion. It now has a fashion app, motor app, foreign-language apps and apps that can scan bar codes to help consumers comparison shop when in stores.

Now it’s taking another pioneering mobile move by launching universal iOS apps for its fashion and motor apps. A universal app is a single app that can be downloaded on a smartphone and a tablet and will display content and features optimized for the device the app is opened on. That means eBay does not have to manage an iPhone, iPad and iPad mini app—just a single iOS app. This also marks the first time eBay Motors and Fashion apps will be available for the iPad and iPad mini.

From a technical perspective, this means that the app now contains a single set of code that works for both types of mobile devices, meaning that eBay will be able to more efficiently share developer resources and save time by only having to update one app instead of two, eBay says.

“After several months of effort, eBay developers have successfully re-imagined the company’s eBay Motors and eBay Fashion apps to better encourage an inspirational, magazine-like shopping experience,” eBay writes in a blog post announcing the universal apps. “The new apps are now universal and are optimized for the iPad and iPad mini. Specifically, both apps are able to display more images, feature a more refined search, and support a tailored experience for both landscape and portrait orientations for the iPad.”

Shoppers around the world are already buying 11,000 vehicles per week using eBay mobile sites and apps, and the addition of the iPad to a universal app will give those shoppers more ways to buy on the go, eBay says.

Steve Yankovich, vice president of innovation and new ventures for eBay, says consumers using the new universal motors app on their iPads can access images of vehicles aggregated from Instagram and Twitter, and can search for similar makes and models based on those photos. “Users shop from those photos,” he says. “The app pivots off the concept of inspiration and creates a unique, visually driven experience for the iPad that differs from the iPhone experience.”

Prior to going universal, eBay’s motor and fashion iPhone apps each accumulated 1 million downloads, eBay says. EBay reported $13 billion in mobile commerce sales for 2012 and is anticipating $20 billion in mobile commerce sales for 2013. 

This summer, members-only housewares and jewelry e-retailer One Kings Lane launched a universal iOS app that works on iPhones, iPads, iPad minis and iPod Touch devices. The new app’s design and navigation are centered on images.

The universal app also allows customers to enable push notifications. One Kings Lanes sends out reminders of sales customers indicate they do not want to miss, when there is only one item left of a product a customer has indicated interest in, and when items left in a shopping cart are about to expire.

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