Mrinalini Loew is Head of Mobile Product Experience at eBay, having previously worked as the Head of Product for eBay Global Consumer Selling Experience. Mrinalini is responsible for eBay’s native apps and mobile-web end to end experiences, as well as ensuring that customers of all abilities can take advantage of participating in our marketplace. Since she joined eBay in 2015, she has been a Product Leader on both the Selling and Shopping sides of eBay, which gives her a unique perspective on how to optimize e-commerce in a marketplace environment.
Ahead of her presentation at the Mobile Innovation Summit this December 5-6 in San Francisco, we spoke to Mrinalini and discussed all things mobile.
How effectively do you think eBay have embraced the increased use of mobile?
eBay has always embraced smartphone and mobile technology – it’s been a natural fit with our highly personalized and engaging shopping experience. I’m particularly proud of the journey we’ve taken in the last year or so – we’ve moved from 'mobile first' to 'platform first', meaning that we’re not trying to create a one-size-fits-all experience for all mobile users, but we’re actually doing a better job leveraging iOS, Android and m-web capabilities. The customer feedback to this strategy has been amazing, so we think it’s been a highly effective way to move forward.
You have worked across several different industries, from banking through to weight watchers, how has this diverse background helped you at eBay?
It’s clear from my background that I love learning about new industries and I’m lucky that I’ve had a chance to work with well-known brands like PepsiCo, Citibank and Weight Watchers before I joined eBay. In each industry, I learned about different approaches to analyzing customer needs, business models, competitive environments and technology – and by applying lessons from other industries to my current role, I can bring a fresher perspective to Product strategy. For example, at Weight Watchers we saw our scientifically proven weight loss program challenged by free apps that didn’t even try to prove their efficacy, which is a lesson I can bring to eBay as we see many new marketplace entrants enter the app space. At Citibank, I had the pleasure of figuring out how to innovate consumer lending, something that has been a part of human society since practically the dawn of humans – at eBay, I get the same exciting challenge of how to innovate another centuries-old practice: commerce.
Do you think that companies are doing enough to integrate mobile into their digital strategy?
From my perspective, it’s clear that companies are doing a lot to integrate mobile into their digital strategy; we’ve been hearing 'mobile first' strategies arise for almost a decade now! However, I would challenge more established companies to do more than merely bring their products onto mobile technologies – I’d love to see more companies rethinking what it means to solve their customers’ problems with the advantages of mobile technologies they didn’t have before.
What do you think are the biggest opportunities that mobile currently offers?
I think the popularity of mobile devices can be partly attributed to the fact that they are actually creating time for people. Whether it’s the few minutes you’re waiting for a doctor’s appointment, or as you’re waiting in line for your lunch in the cafeteria, from a mobile perspective, you can actually accomplish something - or even simply complete a small part of a larger daunting task - in a way you never could before with your mobile device. I think this concept of found time, and how we let users take advantage of it, is really the biggest opportunity that mobile offers. In the spirit of full disclosure, found time doesn’t always have to be fully 'productive': sometimes I just like to use my newly found time to check out the latest cat memes!
How do you see the use of mobile approaches changing in the next 5 years?
In five years, our definition of mobile will have expanded beyond our current tethered devices. With IoT, we’re beginning to take advantage of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, which allows mobile to take on a whole new meaning. We’re only scratching the surface now – in the next five years, we’ll be more connected, but it will be a much more personal experience… and perhaps the whole concept of a single centralize hardware device will go away!
You can hear more from Mrinalini, as well as other executives from industry leaders in the world of mobile, at the Mobile Innovation Summit this December 5-6 in San Francisco. To see the full agenda, click here.