I couldn't say whether online shopping for apparel has been a boom. I don't have any statistics and I've never done any research on the subject. But what I do know, is where there's a boom, there sometimes is a bust. And there are certainly no signs of that ever occurring in e-commerce. Instead I believe, and again, no stats to back me up, that online retail has been a steady, slow climb, that caters to needs that we didn't think we had until we began online shopping. Case in point, how many of us hesitate to shop online because we think we need to try everything on. Then after the ease of the first purchase realize that what we really need is to avoid crowds.
Consumer's embrace of online shopping has led to the unexpected area of mobile shopping. Many, ecommerce sites also have mobile apps that allow you to shop from you're phone. I've done it. It's great! The problem that many of us come across is multiple shopping carts. Personally, I'm notorious for saving items in various shopping carts, in various stores, only to forget that I have something saved until I shop in that store again. Mobile shopping makes this a little easier as the little red dot with a number in it on my iPhone tells me I have purchases waiting to happen.
I've come now to the realization that what I was doing was a stop-gap measure. Like many people, I just accepted this. I never thought for one second, or even wished, that someone would come up with a way to help me organize my carts among multiple shops. Well guess what? Someone else had the same trouble I did and decided to do something about it. What's that saying about the mother of invention again? So far I only know of two companies that address this problem, JiSu (whom I previously covered here) and Mavatar. Both apps work very differently, but the ease of use, as well as the Ah Ha! moment that comes when using them makes me think, without question, that this is the future of online shopping.
I had my first Google Hangout organized by the incredibly talented ladies at Mavatar, Samantha Cabrera and Alexandra Haghighat (click here to view it) where we discussed our individual strategies and challenges of online shopping, of which I previously mentioned mine above. According to Sam and Alex, these challenges are what led to the creation of Mavatar (cool name by the way). Since the Hangout, I've had several days to poke around and play with the desktop app, which can be downloaded directly from the Mavatar site. So let's get to the meat and potatoes of what this program can do.
After downloading the app on Chrome, a little button with the Mavatar logo popped up next to my toolbar at the top of my browser (above). When I click on this little button, a window pops open on the right side of my screen. At the bottom of this window is a link to Mavatar supported stores. This will then take me to a screen with links to all the stores that support the Mavatar app. Essentially, Mavatar works by partnering up with retailers to have their e-commerce sites link with the Mavatar app. So when you save an item in your shopping cart, it automatically goes into the Mavatar cart. At first this may seem like a disadvantage because if a store you like is not a partner, you can't use the app. However, partners include well-established retailers like Bergdorfs, Saks, Macys, Gap, Levi's and then some with over 100 new stores being added by the end of the year. So more likely than not, your fave shop will be a part of the app and you won't miss it very long.
Another great feature of the Mavatar app is that it automatically adds coupon codes to your purchases and allows you to add your own coupons for deeper discounts. No more stepping into the boxing ring on a Macy's sale day. A relief, no doubt. Also, the app allows you to compare items among multiple stores and alerts you to price drops.
There is no doubt in my mind that apps like Mavatar are the future of e-commerce. And it won't surprise me if we see more and more of them popping up in the near future. So get ready for it. So far there's a desktop app and iPad app, but expect to see apps for the iPhone and Android come pretty soon.
Click the video below for a short demonstration of how Mavatar works.