E-Commerce Times Talkback
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Remember when e-commerce used to be
about the technology? Never mind
profitability ratios or shakeouts. In the beginning,
it was all about the high-tech novelty of
shopping online, the excitement of the "never before."
Isn't that why we started paying attention in the first place?
But the first wave of e-commerce companies
found out the hard way that no matter how new or different
their tech advances were, it was the experience of
shopping online that counted most, not how high- or low-tech it was.
And that's still the case today. Take a look at what's new
in the e-commerce technology realm and it's clear that
customer experience is king.
Could you ballpark the cost of the service , say, in a limited number of applications to allow small business web sites to know whether the service is within reach?
Agree that both databases are limiting, and that it's the multiple product shoppers which are proving to be hardest to tackle. However, it is interesting that the new image-based search technology companies seem to have been overlooked. These technologies should not only make the shopping experience faster and more efficient, but should overcome database limitations AND encourage the impulse buy because users can compare VISUALLY the products which they are looking for. Language -- either natural or boolean -- will no longer be an issue, and that includes foreign language shoppers. I have only seen a few of these technologies work, but so far they are quite promising. (Lookthatup, eVision, Visfinity) (yes, I am in the image technology field, but I don't know enough to know if they will help the shopping experience). Anyone???
Natural search language has been tried before. And it doesn't work better because it did not solve the real problems. The problem is not in the interface but in the database information. A search engine works well if and only if it has access to a well-referenced database with information pertaining to the users. To do so, you need: A huge relational database kept up-to-date by huge reference staff and a lot of willing customers that give you their opinions. That is not an easy task. For the rest of the features you talk about, in a year's time you will understand that they do not bring anything useful.
Continue to search...because they do not serve the user experience and they will not increase the ROI of any e-tailer.
Let me give you a piece of insight --- The average retailer makes over 80% of their profit not from the
guy who goes in and buys the one item he is looking for, but rather from the guy who buys
the shirt, a tie, and a great-looking pair of trousers that he really wasn't even looking for. That's
what e-commerce needs to strive for. Natural language only improves the typing experience, not
the shopping experience. When you can get the Internet to duplicate the ability to browse, not
search, the JCPenney catalog under 1 minute, then and only then will the Internet be able to
beat its current rival, the catalog industry. Because to compare the Internet with an in-store
experience, it's a no-contest situation.