In the first part, I looked at issues that brands say are problems with the mobile interaction with their customers and some differences between desktop and mobile. In this part, I look at some of the current mobile shopping apps and propose alternatives.

The current online desktop shopping paradigm took over a decade to evolve to what it is today.  Endeca (now Oracle Endeca Commerce), founded in 1999, had a big hand in many of the features that now make online shopping easy by their invention of guided navigation search, allowing the user to navigate through a catalog using product attributes. Endeca founder Steve Papa said, The Inspiration was in recognizing that the way people were consuming online information on eBay and Amazon was actually delaying e-commerce. Type in a query and get back 4,000 results. That’s not useful.” The Endeca innovation has resulted in that standard navigation bar, usually on the left of the screen, that informs you of the various attributes of the products that fit your search so far and let you set values of those attributes (e.g., select black and brown for color, 12 for size and $50 to $100 for price) to narrow the selection. Although these concepts seem obvious now, it took Endeca years of evangelizing to get widespread adoption of these ideas.

Mobile shopping is just beginning its evolution. And mobile is quite different from the desktop.

Yes, there certainly are some great new ideas in mobile shopping that are being used to enhance the user experience (UX), but most apps start with the big screen version and modify to mitigate mobile negatives. For example, there is not sufficient room for the faceted navigation bar on the main mobile shopping screen, so many apps add a button and put the faceted navigation on a separate screen. And that other screen is too small to have the entire faceted navigation menu, so reduce the menu and choices. The result is that finding products takes longer with more pages and clicks and the resulting navigation is not as good as desktop.

Simply put, this has resulted in the current situation: porting the desktop app techniques to mobile requires adapting to mitigate the negative aspects of mobile devices and that results in poorer performance. Is there another option? Yes. Use the features that mobile devices bring. Consider the different use cases for mobile shopping. Think different.

Rethinking Mobile Shopping.

It is time to rethink mobile shopping interaction. New paradigms. New user interactions designed to mitigate the issues of the smaller screen, pop-up keyboard, etc., to consider the differences in use cases, and leverage the great features unique to mobile.

At Vioby, we have started to rethink mobile and the voice-interactive shopping assistant is the result.

There are lots of other innovators who are also rethinking mobile shopping. In the next post, we will look at some of these great new ideas.