Bringing Browsing Fun to eCommerce

If you look at Amazon or eBay, you could get the feeling that the ecommerce shopping experience is already at its peak: no real innovation since 1995. But luckily from time to time new ideas pop up. Etsy is a perfect example with nice little front end gimmicks like the time machine or connections. German retail/fashion giant Otto is also trying to add a little more "experience" to the buying process with their shiny new shopping client. But for the time being, Otto only wants to do business with early adopters who are willing to get wow'ed by Microsoft. So, who cares? Over at GigaOm I just read about another interesting new way to let customers find products in an online store: letting them browse the Google maps way! browsegoods.jpg The site is called Browsegoods. Instead of proprietary technology, it uses Ajax to give the user an intuitive way to browse through big catalogs with a normal browser. At times, I feel a bit overwhelmed by the large number of products on the screen. But it's a great concept nevertheless!! More on ComparisonEngines.com.
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Apple's iTunes European debut held up by red tape

While the European music industry keeps suing their customers, Apple is still not able to offer their iTunes Music Store in Europe. Now an article from Reuters sheds some lights on the reasons for this:
Eddy Cue, vice president of applications and Internet services for Apple, said one hurdle Apple has run into is the age-old practice of staggered release cycles, meaning some songs would not be available to all European consumers at the same time. Marketing and distribution timetables often prevent music labels from a pan-European launch of an artist, meaning German consumers may have to wait weeks to buy what their friends in the UK are already listening to. "One of the things we are working with the European labels on is to get them to understand how the business works in the online space, and having them change some of their business practices," Cue said.(...)"
Well, looks like the big music labels still haven't come to terms with the fact that Kazaa et al. will never know things like "staggered release cycles". But there seems to be another problem. Many in the music industry just don't believe that online music distribution is here to stay:
"Until somebody gets to 50 million, 100 million, 150 million downloads per month, which by the way is not impossible, we are all going to lose money," said John Rose, executive vice president of EMI Music Group in U.S.
Doesn't sound too optimistic, does it !?
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Amazon starts "Search Inside the Book"

Jeff Bezos wrote a letter to his customers today, telling them that from now on, they are able to search a full text index of 120.000 books with 33 million pages through Amazon's regular search box. Pretty cool feature ! For example, if work for a company like TBWA and you want to know, in which books your agency is mentioned, just ask Amazon and you promptly get an answer . You can even see the context in which the expression is used in every single book, like in this one on Buzz Marketing. If you want to know how it works, click here. Wired also has a detailed article about it (via Boing,Boing).
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Handypay: Jamba will offer a new Mobile-based Micro-payment system

The German mobile portal Jamba is about to launch a new and very interesting micro-payment service called Handypay (see the Press release here - in German). The system will use mobile headsets for authorization: the customer has to enter his mobile phone number into a merchant's website. He then receives a SMS-message with a unique PIN for this specific transaction. After entering the PIN successfully the specified amount (up to 10 Euro per transaction) will be charged to the regular phone bill. What makes Handypay so interesting is the fact that nearly all German mobile phone companies have already agreed to support it. The carriers will take care of credit assessment and the handling of payments - so people don't have to register with Handypay to use the service. According to the press release, Handypay will launch in November with 120 German ecommerce-sites. Unfortunately, the available information doesn't say anything about the minimum amount which will be possible to be charged or the fees that merchants will have to pay for offering this payment-method.
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