Whenever you are shopping online, have you ever thought of something like "it will be cool if this can be done so and so..."? Here, we would like to open up everyone's imagination with crazy ideas to boost our experience shopping online.
Well, some of the following are not that crazy anyway with existing POCs or implementations already while the rest are up to your imagination whether it is feasible or even possible. In any case, do share your cool ideas or wild imaginations in the comment area.
Super Recommendation Engine
Online retailing has an obvious advantage over offline's on data collection and segmentation, but surprisingly still not many online retailers are utilizing this opportunity to the maximum.
For example, it will be great to profile the customers based on demographic (age, gender), geographic (state, city), behavioral (loyalty) and psychographic (interest, lifestyle).
Amazon has done something close to this with its recommendation engine and "customer who bought this item also bought", some major digital content retailers too have cool recommendation engine, but there is still room for online retailers to make you feel creepy by knowing what you want!
Online Sales Assistant via Video
Besides the usual customer support activities, imagine customer can actually initiate a "live bargain" with the sales assistant, especially useful for countries where price negotiation is still a norm.
vCard for Online Shopping
Not that Visa card but something like the electronic business card which you exchange virtually with people you know, or trying to know.
One of the tedious part of online shopping is entering your details and shipping address over and over again especially if you are buying from different online sites.
Now, can some one just set a global standard of osCard (online shopping card)? This osCard metadata shall contain the necessary shopper information to be used by all online retailers in the world.
Talking about convenience again, as most of you know, Amazon controversially owns the "1-Click" patent and trademark.
Can some one apply for "1-Scan" patent before Amazon gets it again?
As the future is mobile, imagining while you are shopping offline and find something that you want to buy, just activate your "1-Scan" app on your mobile which will compare prices, decides the best offer and order it online.
If this happens, the retailers will step up their efforts to combat showrooming.
Augmented Reality (AR) is probably one of the most discussed technology as the future of online shopping. During the early days, many AR proof of concepts are applied on fashion, however Polyvore is arguably more practical.
Until recently, AR for larger items like furniture start gaining popularity, IKEA has one and you can watch an AR demo by Augment below.
3D Printing, or Holographic Display
Augmented Reality is good for users to estimate actual sizing before making buying decision, other options will be 3D printing, or 3D holographic projection - remember R2D2 from Star Wars?
While holographic display looks more of a fiction than reality, 3D printing has enjoyed good progress lately and it has even been reported that 3D printing is becoming a mass market item.
The question is just how affordable it will be for say, printing a 3D prototype before buying a collectible toy online.
This is not state of the art but it is always cool to check on Domino's GPS (note: Great Pizza Service) Tracker when ordering their pizza online.
From their GPS tracker, you can know whether your pizza is being prepared, baked, boxed, packed, ready, or being delivered.
It will be very assuring for customers to know their online order status to this level of details. Once again, kudos to Domino's!