EBay co-opts bricks-and-mortar stores to act as its shop window

EBay has bought popular bar code scanning application RedLaser from Occipital, saying it wants to make it easier for its users to list items for auctions online.

The iPhone app allows users to scan in a bar code and check prices for that item online, and has already had over two million downloads.

The company plans to build it into its eBay Marketplace, eBay Selling, and StubHub applications, and says the aims is to make it easier for online sellers to create eBay listings by accessing pricing trends and product details.

But eBay also plans to incorporate the product into its Shopping.com application, which gives pricing information for over 7,000 retailers globally, including 95 of the top 100 online retailers.

“Mobile enables consumers to make impulse buys and convenient purchases wherever they are, and is constantly innovating to make mobile shopping easy and reduce the friction in commerce,” says Mark Carges, chief technology offier and senior vice president of global products for eBay marketplaces.

“With RedLaser’s innovative technology, eBay is continuing to help shoppers quickly find the best deals online, and eBay sellers will be able to list their items faster.”

But if you’ve forked out millions on creating a nice shiny retail space, you’re probably not going to be best pleased to see your store full of people who are shopping with your competitors right then and there.

It’s one thing if they’re doing it via a small third-party app – making online price comparisons is nothing new. But it may be just that bit more galling to know that it’s all happening courtesy of one of the world’s largest retailers.

The app has been selling for $0.99, but is now available from the App Store for free. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.