Ebay, an example of easy mobile shopping

Theoretically, shopping on the go from with your mobile is a dream for today's busy, multi-tasking, Christmas-shoppers: shop while you commute, shop while you buy a latte, shop while you wait for a friend, etc. Yet the reality of mobile shopping is often much more frustrating, squeezing pages of details into tiny thumb tag windows. Variety and detail both suffer. For some mobile shoppers, however, this is changing: at least for those willing to gamble their way to a good find. Ebay's iphone app (5.5 million downloaded to date) narrows your search based on established shopping habits and preferences, gives you live-text auction feedback (ideal for the auction atmosphere), and allows you to checkout with Paypal thus removing the hassle of most mobile shopping experiences.

Other online shopping sites should look to Ebay’s example clues for clues as to how to make the leap from e-shopping to m-shopping.

The Dreaded Hunt and the Spotscout Solution

Spotscout CEO and Founder, Andrew Rollert, becomes animated when asked about his company.  Over the course of our conversation, his sentences dipped and hooked, weaving a narrative about traffic patterns, consumer habits, Newton’s laws of motion and spatial exchange.  As we spoke, his voice took on a tone of undeterred, optimistic confidence so magnanimous, I would have thought we were talking about baseball or football. All of this is funny, of course, because this conversation began with a few simple questions about parking.  Rollert’s Boston based, six year old venture is trying to change the way people use and consume space, specifically parking space, by providing a free platform for people to buy and sell parking spaces within an expanded and inherently more transparent marketplace.   Wade Roush, the chief correspondent at the Xconomy, aptly summarized the basic logistical ins and outs of these transactions in a blog post last year.  Here’s Wade’s SpotScout crash course:

People who own parking spots—whether they’re commercial garage operators or just private citizens with driveways or other spots that are empty during certain hours—can upload that information to SpotScout. (They’re called “SpotCasters,” in SpotScout’s parlance.) Then, using their desktop computers, laptops, or Internet-enabled cell phones, people seeking spots— or “SpotScouts”—can tell the service where they need a parking spot and when; see a list of available choices, organized by cost, user rating, walking distance to the final destination, or other criteria; reserve a spot, effectively taking it off the market; pay for the spot electronically, from their SpotScout account; and receive a text-message confirmation, sometimes accompanied by discount offers at businesses near the parking spot.

The spot-finding service (not counting the cost of parking) is free to SpotScouts, but SpotCasters pay the company a small percentage of each transaction.’

Don't miss the Spotscout Showcase on Living Labs Global Showcase.  The Living Labs Global SpotScout user review is coming soon.