notes on interaction design

December 23, 2011

Ubiquity Makes Holiday Shopping Easy

Holidays can be a stressful time of year: Preparing to meet up with friends and family, dealing with crowds at the mall, cooking… It’s a welcome relief when usable websites and services can save us hours from these overwhelming chores. Over the course of the past decade, holiday gift-giving has become easy thanks to online and brick and mortar retailers’ innovations in making shopping ubiquitous and convenient.

Amazon.com is a great example of making shopping very convenient both on the web and on the go. Within Amazon.com, customers can purchase products using 1-Click ordering. This allows users to skip the shopping cart entirely as Amazon.com uses default billing and shipping information. And for users who may not want to use this feature, they can simply select to add the product to the cart. Both of the options are listed next to each other with every product.

Amazon.com Add to Cart and 1-Click Ordering options

Users can select to add their product to a traditional online cart, or buy with 1-Click ordering from every product details page.

Amazon.com also gives users the option to add items to their Amazon Wishlist from anywhere on the web using a Universal Wishlist Button. While this doesn’t allow users to add products directly to their cart, it does take them one step closer to purchasing the product.

And to make shopping on the go convenient, the Amazon Mobile iPhone app not only makes the website functionality portable, but it also allows users to use the phone’s camera to make product searching easier. Users can scan barcodes of any product and order those products on Amazon.com, or they can take a photo of a product to order (although the app says that this works best with a book, DVD, CD, or video game). Customers can use this feature if they are in physical stores and want to see if the product is available (or cheaper) on Amazon.com, or if they see a product at a friend’s house that they like, they can scan its barcode and order it.

eBay, on the other hand, is working with some retailers on promoting both in-store and online shopping. As eCommerce Bytes reports, eBay is running a rewards program where shoppers who spend $100 on certain retailers’ websites or eBay stores, will receive a $10 in-store credit at those retailers. Moreover, eBay recently announced its Gifts Nearby Portal, where users can compare prices locally and see if it’s in stock. If it’s at Best Buy, users can purchase the product on eBay and pick it up at Best Buy. eBay recognizes that users really shop both online and in-store and facilitates this process.

Brick and Mortar retailers are also getting in the ubiquitous shopping game. Sears and Kmart have put up virtual shopping walls around LA to allow users to easily shop for toys. These walls have pictures of toys with quick response (QR) codes. Users simply scan the codes with their smartphones to make a purchase.

Sample QR code

Sears and Kmart are use QR codes to allow customers to shop all around LA.

And of course for holiday shoppers who wait until the very last minute to shop (like Christmas Eve), there is always option to send gifts via email. Mashable recommends a list of various gift certificates or subscriptions that seem gift-worthy, and not just an afterthought.

Being able to shop for gifts literally anytime, anywhere makes holiday shopping easier. There’s no need to wait in long lines at the mall, wrap presents, or go to the post office to deliver presents. It’s no wonder that ComScore reported that online holiday shopping is up 15% in our economic climate.

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