While the most attention-grabbing headline might be eBay’s overall focus on the potential $195 billion online sales in emerging markets (specifically Brazil, Russia, India, and China — the BRIC countries), what’s more interesting to us is the order of process in which they’re infiltrating these countries.
Beginning with Russia, where online retail grew 25% in 2011, to $10.5 billion, the site tried to gain ground last year by releasing a fashion-focused mobile app first, followed by a full Russian-language site. They even integrated the app with the go-to European fashion site Chicisimo (one of our favorites for street style and sartorial inspiration). The plan was effective, with a 75% increase in eBay users in Russia during 2012. Introducing the site on smartphones and tablets first worked so well there that the company will probably follow the same pattern in Latin America.
Part of the success of the mobile-led strategy in the region is due to the fact that consumers in the BRIC nations are often more likely to have a smartphone rather than a desktop or laptop. However, the tendency also points to a basic global trend toward mobile commerce over traditional online retail in general. Smart brands, like eBay, will enter emerging markets with dedicated apps as well as high-functioning, fully-translated mobile sites.