Tag Archives: mobile phone

Shopping while sitting in a parked car

2 Jan Shopping at Gilt Groupe on the iPhone

I recently read that shopping from the mobile phone is rising fast.  Makes sense – when do we moms ever have time to sit at the computer? We barely have time to sit down for five minutes and eat our own lunch.   However, here and there, I do find myself with a few minutes of downtime with just my mobile phone, like when my daughter is napping in the back seat of the car.  It’s a great time to catch up on email (or at least make a dent in the inbox – we are never really caught up, are we?).  I recently tried browsing online stores on my 2 year old Blackberry, but it’s impossible – the experience stinks.  Product images are smaller than a postage stamp, page layout is all scrambled, and there are major user interface problems (navigational links disappearing, no way to choose sizes or colors from drop-down menus). I have to scroll down, down, down so much that my little track ball gets tired after a while and decides to quit, leaving me to rest my sore scrolling thumb.  Even if I know what I am buying, I can’t seem to complete a transaction – the checkout process doesn’t work either.  I have yet to make mobile shopping work for me, but millions of people have somehow managed it, according to this article in the San Jose Mercury News–  so I am suddenly very intrigued. I must be missing something.

Online shopping from my computer saved me this season – after the kids went to bed, I went online and purchased the vast majority of my presents that way. It’s a convenient way to ship presents to recipients in other cities, or to save a trip to the store.  When the cardboard boxes from Amazon started piling up in my front hallway, I told my 5 year old son that daddy had ordered a lot of tools for his workshop, and he was not the least bit suspicious. At least this year, he is still a willing believer in Santa Claus. Not sure what will happen next year when he is one year older and more skeptical…maybe I’ll have them delivered to my neighbor’s house. But I digress.

Despite recent online shopping failures, I still love shopping online, and cling to the belief it’s a great way to bring the store to me when I can’t get to the store.  Now I need to figure what mobile device offers the best shopping platform. It seems the two contenders are the iPhone and a bunch of different phones running Google’s Android operating system. Is it possible to browse a web site as is, or do I need to download a shopping app from the store I want to browse? Which platform has better shopping apps? Here is a screen shot from Apple’s web site of one retailer who has developed an app just for this purpose, the Gilt Groupe, an online department store.

Shopping at Gilt Groupe on the iPhone

Shopping on the mobile phone promises the freedom to shop online from anywhere, but so far, online retailers are slow to offer a good user experience browsing a regular web page on the mobile phone. In response, larger web stores have begun to develop custom shopping applications that run on the mobile phone. Here are two screen shots of The Gilt Groupe's app for the iPhone.

I am not especially partial to this web site, it just happens to be the example on Apple’s web site – but it’s interesting to imagine how much shopping online could be improved  if the experience catered to my personal preferences, such as the sizes I shop for, my target price range, or items I have purchased in the past.

Smartphones on Verizon network

The smartphone promises to make it possible to comfortably shop anywhere, anytime. Can it deliver on that promise?

I can’t wait to replace my not-so-smartphone; I am secretly waiting for the sticky scrolling mechanism to finally quit so I have a good excuse to spend $200 on a new phone. I don’t care about battery life or fitting the phone in my pocket – but web browsing must be great. The screen of the iPhone is still too small for my taste – not to mention the fact that AT&T, the only cell phone carrier at the moment, has lousy reception at my house. Does a better alternative exist?  If you are successfully shopping on your device, please share how and where.

Meanwhile, I will be following the headlines from CES 2011 in hopes that the mobile phone manufacturers have some breakthrough to announce. My ideal device would have a really large screen and a web browser that lets me shop online comforably, from at any site, without needing to download an app every time. It still doesn’t solve the problem of what I would order, since I am still searching for What to Wear After Kids – but at least my daughter could peacefully finish her nap in the parking lot of Target while I order her next box of diapers online.

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