It's always those little things spotted in a foreign country that I wish I'd grabbed more of to bring back home, like $2 cartoon-print chopsticks from Tokyo, a $3 sack of paprika from Budapest, or $1 bottles of local lavender oil from Zagreb. I may not revisit those places, but I could ask for someone going there to snag some stuff for me. If you're my friend, however, that could interfere with your carefree vacation. Why not ask a stranger instead?
Online consumers have become relatively slow shoppers, according to a recent report on digital window shopping.
Online shoppers are now being more cautious than they were two years ago, and are taking more than half a day longer before making a buying decision and completing a transaction, according to a report by ScanAlert, a security-certification company in Bay Area that analyzed 2.6 million online sales executed on 470 Web sites from May 2005 to May 2007.
Since May 2005, the average time between a consumer's first visit to a Web site and an actual purchase increased from 19 … Read more
Heading down to the grocery store usually means sitting down at the kitchen table and writing out a list. With OneTrip Shopping List, you can make your grocery list on your iPhone using a well-made interface. It's especially easy to use because you can choose from common categories to find the things you need such as vegetables, meats, or fruit. Once you find the specific item, just touch it to add it to your list. The list even lets you check things off once you get to the store.
iPhone link: http://onetrip.org/onetrip/?pass&go
Web … Read more
This app for the iPhone provides another way to shop for low prices online. Simply enter the product, and Mogoso searches Amazon.com for matches. What makes this app better than other shopping apps we've reviewed so far is the way it brings the listings, reviews, and expanded summary to your phone rather than sending you to Amazon.
iPhone link: http://www.mogoso.com/
Web site link: http://www.mogoso.com/about.aspx
Yes, we've finally reached the point when you can have it all or at least get it all, even when away from your computer. With Amazon.com on your iPhone, anything you might want is only a few swipes of your finger away. Can't remember the name of that book? Want to show the sales clerk which camera you're talking about? Want to buy a Nintendo Wii while riding the bus? Amazon.com for iPhone has got you covered.
Web site link: http://awasteofpixels.com/iphoneapps/
Pretty soon the Wii's online store won't be just for Virtual Console games and Opera. Nintendo just announced WiiWare, a Wii software creation service for indie developers. Smaller game companies will be able to use WiiWare to produce downloadable games to distribute and sell over Nintendo's Wii Shop Channel.
Nintendo's move has shades of Microsoft's XNA Studio Express initiative, in which the Xbox community can create games and potentially make them available for play on the Xbox 360 or on Windows machines.
This is more than welcome news for Wii owners, who have been experiencing … Read more
The line between laziness and forgetfulness is a fine one, but the consequences are the same: Nothing gets done. That's how we justify our fondness for products like the "SmartShopper," which spits out a paper shopping list after you tell it what you need. Even the likes of HP are getting into this act.
But what if you don't know what should be on the list (and are too lazy to open the refrigerator door)? That's where the "Ikan" comes in. The idea, according to CrunchGear, goes something like this: Before you toss … Read more
Hillary Clinton's spoof of The Sopranos finale, posted widely on YouTube, seems to be generating the buzz her campaign sought. But aside from some banner ads, YouTube doesn't really provide commercial interruptions, nor does it encourage users to use videos for marketing purposes.
Meanwhile, several start-up sites are serving up video classifieds, letting you upload homemade commercials to show off what you might normally put out on eBay, Craigslist, or at a yard sale.
Social shopping Web sites let you track things you'd like to buy and display them on a social networking profile or blog. The style snapshot can serve as a portable gift registry or just a conversation-starter with people who share your style sensibilities. Most of these services provide a browser button so you can easily tag goods you find while Web surfing, in addition to integrating with MySpace, Facebook, or Friendster.
The makers of ThisNext coined the term "shopcasting" to describe its banners that let you display your favorite stuff on a blog or MySpace page. ThisNext is strong for tracking a niche interest; many of its users flag eco-friendly goods, for instance.
Kaboodle's cute site design kept me clicking longer than its competition. Its groups let me humor a passion for vintage sterling jewelry and search for custom tags to find Veronica Lake-era fashion. The community is diverse and creative at Kaboodle, similar to the Etsy crafts marketplace. Plus, tagging is faster than at rival sites. I recommend it.
Wists also let you track a wide range of dry goods, like flip-flops, a guillotine pendant necklace, or a pinball machine. But small usability details irked me, such as needing to type the underscore symbol when adding multiple tags to an item. Although offering less flexibility, as well as an awkward set-up process, MyPickLists will send you a small kickback if someone buys an item on your wish list.
The interface of Glimpse looks nice with earth tones, but I'd like to make fewer mouse clicks there; even a dropdown search bar would help. Glimpse's makers might be wise to capitalize more on its celebrity profiles, say, by letting you add a star's outfit to your personal StyleFile. (I'd have to travel to another decade to use this kind of feature, but others might like it.)
ShopStyle (also here) is free of advertising. It offers staple women's magazine suggestions, like dressing for your body "type," and it irritatingly takes you straight to a store's shopping cart once you click on something. It just launched in February, however, so maybe more interesting features will come later.
Stylehive lets users lead or follow each other's style selections, but merchants may be lurking in disguise, as the Wall Street Journal noted recently. StyleHive is less intuitive than Kaboodle, but it kept me entertained. Yahoo's Shoposphere lets you create pick lists, but I found it boring.
These startup shopping sites, particularly Kaboodle and ThisNext, make it fun to discover cool stuff, but I want them to do so much more, especially when it comes to clothes. The print Lucky Magazine does a better job of laying out outfits than these Web pages do. If you're built like a brick house, wouldn't you appreciate a service that takes your measurements to help account for each brand's variations in size? Mass customization is popular for T-shirts, but the trend still has a long way to go.
I find only a few benefits to shopping for apparel online. In stores, there's no defense from cruel dressing-room lighting, but you can try on anything bought on the Internet in your own boudoir. Plus, weeding out deals on the Web can be easier than scrounging through retail basement bargain bins. More social shopping sites should ping you when items go on sale, as Glimpse, What's Buzzing, and Deal Bundle do.
Other than those conveniences, however, no interface can match the tactile pleasures of shopping in a real world emporium. I'll take thumbing through piles of cashmere any day over clicking through uncozy clouds of text tags online. And who can guess accurately from a flat thumbnail image that some jeans will fit well? Too often you'll find the pair to be too snug, but only after you've already paid and had them shipped home.
I'd like to play with a digital paper doll approach to Web shopping that would let you mix, match, and assemble outfits on an avatar (See also FashMatch). It's odd that IM apps don't already let you shop that way (Second Life is limited, too.).
The simplicity of Craigslist is key to its success, but the classifieds can be clunky when you're shopping for something specific that could turn up anywhere on the map. What if you're willing to drive up and down the West Coast to find a mint Cadillac coupe from the Carter era? Here's where Craigslist stops being simple. It certainly can do the trick, but you'll have to do separate searches from Seattle to San Diego. Since my knuckles are sore, I don't want to click that much.
Two low-key-looking Web sites that provide portals to … Read more