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SEMA Show, pre-show: Go mobile

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Tires are being offered "25% to 40% off, with free shipping," on eBay Motors as you read this. The "Motors Mega Deals" are part of eBay's automotive parts and accessories business.

How big is eBay Motors? President Gregory Boutte said the site gets 14.8 million visits each month, and "a part is sold each second."

One day before the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show opens, eBay Motors and the SEMA Education Institute co-sponsored a seminar on the next big revolution in selling automotive parts: going mobile.

In "From Desktop to Pocket: The Future of Internet Information," Boutte said Smartphones represent 20% of phone sales -- and they are growing at a 50% year-to-year clip.

"One billion mobile phones are being sold every year on the planet."

Here are some other stats, which help explain why one of the panalists said the laptop computer is going the way of the nearly extinct desktop computer:

* 38% of cell phone users access the Web.

* 55% of the 38% do it daily.

* 9% of all searches are from mobile phones (projected to be 20% in 2012).

* over 5 billion apps have been downloaded.

By 2013, 40% of Internet traffic will be mobile, he added.

Not surprisingly, the demographics for Smartphone users skews young. However, it also skews old, say, 45 and older. Martin Lauber, president of Swirl Marketing, explained why: " Their entire intro into computing is the mobile phone, which is much more friendly than a laptop."

The crux of the seminar was that retailers need to understand how the mobile revolution is not only changing the way they sell, but also customer behavior. As such, meeting the customers' needs -- even for automotive parts and services -- may require your dealership to go mobile, too.

One piece of advice: "Don't try to duplicate your Web site on the phone," suggested Glenn Rogers, CEO of CarDomain.

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