Welcome to a special holiday leftovers edition. Either you are still getting together with friends and relatives for another Christmas go-around or you are thinking up ways to spend all of the shopping gift cards you received as gifts. Either way, shopping is the common theme and, coincidentally, the topic this week (had to break for Christmas). Research from Adobe recently found that consumers are not so geared towards mobile shopping apps and prefer to simply browse the mobile web for shopping reviews, comparisons and product research. What does that mean? Website competition for who can be the most helpful in making a purchase or gift purchase decision. One is a new comparison engine called FindTheBest.com, which Jennifer Van Grove discusses further in “New Comparison Engine Helps You Make Decisions on Products and Services” http://on.mash.to/e2gB1i. This search engine is a lot like the sites for flight information that combine everything on one page. On this site you can search for the best product or service and filter results based on the criteria you have in mind. Another, called Justbuythisone.com, visits the other extreme and simplifies your search so that you are just choosing between a few items. Currently they only focus on electrical items from TVs to toasters, but are looking to expand to fashion and financial services. More about Justbuythisone.com, which launches in January 2011, can be found in Emma Hall’s “Overwhelmed U.K. Online Shoppers Can Justbuythisone” http://bit.ly/ihgV0a.
You may be wondering which site is the best of the two and which one will be more helpful? My prediction is that shoppers are looking for something in between. The first has too many choices, perhaps even when filtered, and the second too few (although they are aiming to include a way for shoppers to search through more options if just a few is not enough). An article titled “What Shoppers Want From Retail Apps” http://bit.ly/gBBzOu suggests that current mobile shopping apps do not fit the consumer need yet either. According to this research, shoppers claim they would be more interested in apps where they can get money-off coupons, view current in-store specials, get driving directions to the nearest location, be alerted when a specific item is in stock, buy the product online, read user reviews, be alerted when stores receive items similar to previous purchases and list and total past store purchases. The way we shop and the way we shop for gifts is definitely changing. What if Facebook had something where you could sign into your profile on any retailer site and view your friends browsing history, wish lists and previous online purchases? This may be the direction we are headed. According to Geoffrey A. Fowler and Vauhini Vara’s “Using ‘Likes’ for Gift Ideas” http://on.wsj.com/gCicQs, sites like Amazon.com and Etsy.com are making gift recommendations based off of preferences and comments on friends’ Facebook profiles. Amazon allows users to sign into their Facebook profiles on the Amazon site and, with permission, access friends’ profile information and use it to suggest gifts. Perhaps someday people will no longer have to call and request that something be put on hold either. It could all be done online with just a first name, pick-up date, and a few clicks. The moral of this story is that some of this technology is still very new, but it is interesting to watch it develop and will be fascinating to see where it is headed.