Even as online sales continue to encroach on traditional sales models, Web-based retailers face a dilemma: How do they create a shopping and buying experience online that’s nearly as dynamic, exciting, and emotionally rewarding as shoppers can get from bricks-and-mortar stores?
Companies like Amazon and Zappos were originally credited for taking the online shopping experience to new heights by providing community features like online reviews and generous return policies. Some Web retailers are now taking it a step further and finding innovative ways to let customers easily test out products from the comforts of home or making home delivery of everyday items as carefree as possible.
Take a look at six online retailers that are revolutionizing the way we buy things online
1. Warby Parker. Eyeglasses seller Warby Parker offers a “Home Try-On Program” that lets prospective customers pick up to five pairs of eyeglasses shipped in a box to their home for free. Shoppers can try the glasses for up to five days and return any they don't like via UPS--free of charge. The company also promotes its "buy a pair, give a pair" program that gives a pair of glasses to someone in need for every pair purchased on the site.
2. The Dollar Shave Club. Making sure you always have a sharp razor can require lots of trips to the store. Dollar Shave Club tries to make it easy. The company lets subscribers choose a razor that’s the right quality and price point for them (starting at a dollar per month). For one monthly fee, the razors are delivered right to your doorstep.
3. LittleBlackBag.com. The company is loosely based on the concept of the Japanese tradition of a “Lucky Bag sale” in which retailers sell mystery bags of products. Little Black Bag customers buy bags online and can trade the items inside with friends and other people online. The site facilitates the trading.
4. Birchbox.com. It offers subscriptions for women ($10 per month) and men ($20 per month) that deliver to your door monthly samples of everything from skincare to makeup products. Subscribers of the monthly sample boxes can then buy full-sized products from Birchbox if they find products they like.
5. TheGrommet.com. Preaching “citizen commerce”—the idea that what we buy should reflect our personal values—The Grommet offers unique, “undiscovered” products that the company founders believe its community of followers will like. Recent product offerings include things like a portable laundry pod and a dog bowl that doubles as a flying disc. “Grommets are products with a purpose invented by people with a purpose,” the site says. “Buy differently.” Users can also submit their own product finds to the site.
6. ShoeDazzle.com. Shoppers take an online quiz to determine their shoe and accessory style and the site then provides recommendations based on the answers in their personal “showroom.” The idea is that shoppers get the feeling that they’re receiving recommendations handpicked specifically for them.
You can read more about new technologies that are changing how people shop online in this PCMag.com article.
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