Apple exploring enhanced online store with social networking

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Because online stores are less likely to encourage users to "window shop" for new products, Apple seeks to make the Web shopping experience less "sterile and isolating," and encourage consumers to spend more money.



The new patent application from Apple revealed this week, entitled "Enhancing Online Shopping Atmosphere," notes that while online stores do have some advantages over physical stores, such as search functionality and being available 24/7, they also have a series of drawbacks. In addition to being a less friendly environment than a brick-and-mortar location, customers are less likely to "linger" while looking at a product, and therefore might spend less money than someone who shops in a physical store.



Apple seeks to improve the experience by adding a social element to an online marketplace. This could be accomplished by tracking what section of the store and what specific products other customers are currently in. The information could be conveyed to a shopper by displaying a human-shaped icon, representing what is popular on the Web site at that specific moment in time.



The system could offer up real-time statistics, giving shoppers information such as how many people viewed an item that particular day, or how many nearby shoppers are currently looking at that product. Users could also track nationwide and global statistics, seeing what customers in specific states or countries have purchased.



The application describes a shopper, "Alice," who is viewing productivity software in an online store. By hovering her mouse over the product, Alice is presented with the number of people currently looking at the software and the percentage of people site-wide with that product in their shopping cart.



Alice's personal history could also be tracked, showing products that consumers with similar interests viewed, or recommending search keywords based on her viewing and purchasing habits, as compared with other shoppers.







The social aspects could also be used for promotions. The application describes a feature that could ask Alice to "follow the footsteps" of other visitors, by visiting sections of the site they did, in order to receive a discount or participate in a contest.



Users on the site could also connect and speak with one another, to discuss products or share their personal experiences. Customers would also be able to opt out of these features if they were not interested in them, or decline just specific aspects. For example, Alice's profile might state that she is willing to be contacted by other visitors to answer questions about printers, but she does not want to talk about her personal taste in music.







Much like in a physical store, sections of the online location will also have salesmen available to answer questions. By clicking on an icon representing the salesman, the shopper could instantly chat with a representative. Those employees could have varying skill levels, with general help labeled with an "H," while a software training specialist would be marked with an "S."



The application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is credited to David A. Koski. It was filed for on Dec. 14, 2009.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 28
    smiles77smiles77 Posts: 668member
    Doesn't look to add much.
  • Reply 2 of 28
    zindakozindako Posts: 468member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Smiles77 View Post


    Doesn't look to add much.



    At least they recognize the issue and are trying to offer up a solution, I don't see Microsoft or Dell doing anything. Those companies usual approach is to see what apple does then copy it.
  • Reply 3 of 28
    801801 Posts: 271member
    I get the idea, and it might work. But it seems like a good way for marketers to "game" the system. I think getting an purchase recommendation from an anonymous person or persons is a great way to push inferior products or generate lots of returns.



    But I will admit, that the marketing data mined from this sort of activity would be priceless. I guess Apple is not done changing retail yet.



    They certainly have the promotional side of the business down.
  • Reply 4 of 28
    vrkiranvrkiran Posts: 110member
    what a bogus patent .. I don't see anything new in this that hasn't been done on Amazon and a host of other web sites, some known and some unknown.
  • Reply 5 of 28
    danielswdanielsw Posts: 905member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by vrkiran View Post


    what a bogus patent .. I don't see anything new in this that hasn't been done on Amazon and a host of other web sites, some known and some unknown.



    Saying that two different things are the same is a mark of stupidity. Apple wouldn't waste its time trying to patent something that was already patented.



    This is a great idea! Some people need to consult others' opinions before making decisions, and this is a good way to automate the process. It's a good use of computer technology which might as well have Apple's brand on it.
  • Reply 6 of 28
    cincyteecincytee Posts: 235member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Because online stores are less likely to encourage users to "window shop" for new products, Apple seeks to make the Web shopping experience less "sterile and isolating," and encourage consumers to spend more money.



    Although I do occasionally make use of Amazon's "What others actually bought" feature to investigate comparable items I may not know about, this undermines the basic joy of online shopping: no people. If I want to deal with traffic, parking, strollers, gaggles of teen-agers, and commissioned sales clerks, I'll go to the real store. Similarly, I've seen my neighbors; telling me what they're buying is an incentive to look elsewhere.
  • Reply 7 of 28
    I have always found the concept of 'friend' and social networks to be antithetical; if you are my friend/I am yours, why can't I talk to you one-on-one? Why must we share our thoughts with the world...unless they are so vacuous that they are really meant more for acquaintances NOT friends. Friends don't let friends write junk. But I digress.



    I am very interested in Apple's patent/approach. I like to get information I am interested in when I need that info. people's reviews--a la Amazon and current Apple store -- are okay, but the power to have real time interaction with other people who are shopping for the same thing as me, sharing our research and options, PLUS having the opportunity to speak with a store 'salesperson'..all of this is dynamite. All shopping online should have a social component. I look forward to seeing the implementation
  • Reply 8 of 28
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,557member
    There might be value in an Apple / Amazon type store but for many the web offers the opportunity to appear big without actually being big. For those stores this idea will have the opposite effect. Such a system can reveal an uncomfortable truth. "There are currently 0 other shoppers on this site"... ouch! Like a forum that shows five posts on a particular subject where the last post was over a year ago!
  • Reply 9 of 28
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,463member
    The unfortunate side effect the patent process for Apple these days if every Apple competitor simply starts the photocopiers and looks for way to copy everything they are doing. I can imagine Google and M$ already having the meetings this morning to decide how best to have their version of this up as fast as possible.
  • Reply 10 of 28
    masternavmasternav Posts: 442member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by vrkiran View Post


    what a bogus patent .. I don't see anything new in this that hasn't been done on Amazon and a host of other web sites, some known and some unknown.





    I want to check out those "unknown" websites that do this!!!







    /mock
  • Reply 11 of 28
    smiles77smiles77 Posts: 668member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by luckylindy View Post


    I have always found social networks to be anti-thetical; if you are my friend/I am yours, why can't I talk to you one-on-one? Why must we share our thoughts with the world...unless they are so vacuous that they are really meant more for acquaintances NOT friends. Friends don't let friends write junk. But I digress.



    I am very interested in Apple's patent/approach. I like to get information I am interested in when I need that info. people's reviews--a la Amazon and current Apple store -- are okay, but the power to have real time interaction with other people who are shopping for the same thing as me, sharing our research and options, PLUS having the opportunity to speak with a store 'salesperson'..all of this is dynamite. All shopping online should have a social component. I look forward to seeing the implementation



    Here you go, this is a good idea. Have an agent at each product (or in the case of large categories such as cases and speakers one agent for every x number of products) as sort of a salesclerk to assist you with details on the product in a public chatroom built into the page. People could comment on their own experiences or link to reviews as well. I realize that Apple has their Apple Chat agents who are frequently available, but it usually takes a little while to get the information because they are general agents with no specialized experience. They look up in a database what you could do yourself, but if you had an agent who actually used say Logic Express and could tell you how technically difficult certain tasks were, or say whether it could perform other tasks would be very helpful.



    This patent is useful, but not nearly as much as some other changes that could be made.
  • Reply 12 of 28
    zindakozindako Posts: 468member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by vrkiran View Post


    what a bogus patent .. I don't see anything new in this that hasn't been done on Amazon and a host of other web sites, some known and some unknown.



    Link to these websites that have these features incorporated already please!!!
  • Reply 13 of 28
    crimguycrimguy Posts: 116member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by zindako View Post


    Link to these websites that have these features incorporated already please!!!



    Just give me a way to sort by rating and I"ll be happy.
  • Reply 14 of 28
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Yeah and build it all in Flash so that it could do a lot of cool virtual environments.
  • Reply 15 of 28
    soskoksoskok Posts: 107member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mstone View Post


    Yeah and build it all in Flash so that it could do a lot of cool virtual environments.



    You mean HTML5...
  • Reply 16 of 28
    elrothelroth Posts: 1,201member
    What a horrible idea! I don't want a web store tracking me, and I don't want to know what other bozos are looking at or buying.



    Having a salesperson available could be helpful once in a while, but everything else gives me the creeps.



    And Apple thinks this is patentable? This is just adding a couple of new functions to Amazon's statistics, and a slightly different way of presenting them: "most popular products", "people viewing this item also viewed...", etc.
  • Reply 17 of 28
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Soskok View Post


    You mean HTML5...



    Actually QuickTime VR is more like it. QTVR is a technology that Apple kind of abandoned. The interactive portions are rather primitive but with a little JS you might make a suitable interactive virtual environment.



    We used to do QTVR and still have all the gear. After thinking about how I might mash up some QTVR and JS I went searching the world wide web and found some pages that Apple might have forgotten existed on their server.



    http://www.apple.com/quicktime/resou...authoring.html



    On the right hand side are some other links to obsolete softwares. including Motion 2 among others.



    I think a little webmastering might be in order.
  • Reply 18 of 28
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Apple has a benefit here over other online stores, like Amazon. While Amazon (#21 according to Alexa) has a lot more traffic than Apple (#55 according to Alexa), Apple has a lot less product so they will likely have a lot more viewers per page than Amazon on average.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cincytee View Post


    If I want to deal with traffic, parking, strollers, gaggles of teen-agers, and commissioned sales clerks, I'll go to the real store. Similarly, I've seen my neighbors; telling me what they're buying is an incentive to look elsewhere.



    ¿Que? What lines? It's still an online store there will be no queues, not strollers, no giggling girls, not sales clerks and everything else you are imagining. Apple isn't trying to recreate a physical store by putting up roadblocks to make shopping more inconvenient, they are looking to add elements that help sell more product. From a marketing standpoint, seeing that the 13" 2.4GHz MBP has had 250,000 visitors in in the last 24 hours and currently has 50k people looking at the page is good for business.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post


    I can imagine Google and M$ already having the meetings this morning to decide how best to have their version of this up as fast as possible.









    Quote:
    Originally Posted by masternav View Post


    I want to check out those "unknown" websites that do this!!!







    /mock



    Right?!





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mstone View Post


    Yeah and build it all in Flash so that it could do a lot of cool virtual environments.









    Quote:
    Originally Posted by elroth View Post


    What a horrible idea! I don't want a web store tracking me.



    Um, they already do and have for years. vBulletin forums, Gmail, etc. all track you, all this is doing in making some of the grouped stats known to customer.
  • Reply 19 of 28
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DanielSW View Post


    This is a great idea! Some people need to consult others' opinions before making decisions, and this is a good way to automate the process. It's a good use of computer technology which might as well have Apple's brand on it.



    Of course you think it's a great idea. It's Apple. If this had been an article for a Microsoft article, you'd be arguing how stupid this idea was and how idiotic it was to try to mesh social networking concepts with a web store.



    As others have stated, manufacturers (including Apple) could game the system by having people sitting on the pages for their products 24/7 who then give anyone asking for shopping advice positive feedback on said product. I don't see the benefit of asking some anonymous stranger for product advice. It seems just as productive to read the reviews so you end up with a balanced perspective.
  • Reply 20 of 28
    blah64blah64 Posts: 870member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by elroth View Post


    What a horrible idea! I don't want a web store tracking me



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    Um, they already do and have for years. vBulletin forums, Gmail, etc. all track you, all this is doing in making some of the grouped stats known to customer.



    With forums or shopping sites like Amazon, that's true only if you're foolish enough to allow them to track you by signing in and carrying persistent cookies around willy-nilly and/or use the same IP all the time, etc. I browse Amazon, anonymously, but I don't purchase from them for exactly the reason elroth states above: I don't want stores tracking me and my purchases. It's just creepy. You're right about gmail and other web email, because there's usually enough personal information in an email account to personally identify you. Think that's not a problem? Read this:



    http://lauren.vortex.com/archive/000706.html



    I thought our previous administration was bad enough with the level of privacy infringement. This is crazy stuff that's going on *right* *now*, with the current administration. If there's anyone at all who has a reasonable need for that data, it's the feds. But work within the legal system and get a warrant.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by caliminius View Post


    Of course you think it's a great idea. It's Apple. If this had been an article for a Microsoft article, you'd be arguing how stupid this idea was and how idiotic it was to try to mesh social networking concepts with a web store.



    Yes, you can imagine the outrage among the Apple-faithful (myself included in that bin), if microsoft started tracking their users' shopping habits. Hmm. After Google, and maybe Amazon, Apple probably has more information about more people than any other U.S. company. That's a dangerous amount of power if it's not managed very, very carefully.
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