eWEEKChat Nov. 11: Key Trends in Retail and Mobile Apps

On Wednesday, Nov. 11, at 11 a.m. PDT/2 p.m. EDT/7 p.m. GMT, @eWEEKNews will host its monthly #eWEEKChat. Join us if you can.

key retail trends

On Wednesday, Nov. 11, at 11 a.m. PDT/2 p.m. EDT/7 p.m. GMT, @eWEEKNews will host its monthly #eWEEKChat. The topic will be "Key Trends in Retail and Mobile Apps." It will be moderated by Chris Preimesberger, who serves as eWEEK's editor of features and analysis.

Some quick facts:

Topic: Key Trends in Retail and Mobile Apps

Date/time: Nov. 11, 2015 @11a.m. PDT/2 p.m. EDT/7 p.m. GMT, click here to add to Outlook Calendar

Moderator: Chris Preimesberger: @editingwhiz

Tweetchat handle: Use #eWEEKChat to follow/participate or use the widget below.

Chatroom real-time links: We have two: http://tweetchat.com/room/eweekchat or http://www.tchat.io/rooms/eweekchat. Both work very well. These are the best ways to follow the commentary.

Key Trends in Retail and Mobile Apps

Just in time for the holiday buying season, we take a look at how we will actually be buying gifts and services: via our mobile devices, be it a smartphone, tablet or laptop.

The numbers have been increasing each year of this last decade: In 2014, for the first time, more goods and services were purchased online than in walk-in stores.

When it comes to searching for the perfect gift, Google obviously rules the search world and Amazon has the most from which to choose. However, there's some innovation happening here; for example, Pinterest is diving into wordless searches this year.

The site's new visual search tool is Pinterest's latest effort to help its 100 million users discover the things they didn't even know they liked, leveraging the vast repository of 1 billion "boards" and 50 billion "pinned" images now on the social scrapbooking site.

The new tool lets users zoom in on a specific object in an image that could contain multiple elements—say, if a user was looking at a picture-perfect living room showing off a lamp, table and couch—to see more of a specific object that looks visually similar. A user could choose to see more lamps, for instance, with similar colors, shapes, and patterns.

The company says that it has indexed about a billion images on its social network for the new search engine with the help of the Berkeley Vision and Learning Center, known for its expertise in "deep learning" techniques. Basically, Pinterest engineers used special software to let its system "learn" which images looked similar after combing through large amounts of data. Over time, Pinterest says, it hopes to categorize all of its billions of Pins.

On Oct. 6, Apple unveiled a new category to its App Store that will help consumers better locate mobile shopping applications. The Shopping category will be available worldwide and will feature apps that span across omni-channel, auctions, price comparison, product reviews and more. These applications were previously listed in the App Store's "Lifestyle" section, which made them more difficult to surface, as they were listed alongside a wide range of applications, including dating apps, journals, smart home application, real estate and home improvement apps, nightlife apps, wedding apps and more.

Now those that enable commerce will get their own section—which could have the potential to boost discoverability, downloads, and sales for App Store developers as well as larger businesses like Amazon, Walmart and Groupon, who develop mobile shopping apps. Plus, because it removes a huge chunk of apps from the Lifestyle category, its launch will also impact the Top Charts and rankings of those apps remaining in that section.

Finally, in the works—most likely for 2016—are online apps that can be connected to augmented and virtual reality/augmented reality headsets, such as Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR, Gear VR and HTC Vive. Using these devices, users can go online and "try on" apparel items, take a test drive in a new car or become immersed in a hot video game.

Connected augmented reality headsets, similar to Google Glass, enable users to, say, walk up to an apartment building, gaze at a specific apartment, and then have rental prices and availability shown in real time via cloud connection to the apartment Website.

The best way to see if you like something is to test it out fully first. This is what may shoppers will be doing soon; we're a year away from any sort of common usage just yet.

On Nov. 11, we'll be posing questions such as these:

--Roughly what percentage of your own holiday shopping will you do online?

--From whom you prefer buying: from established product aggregators, such as Amazon, Google and Apple, or individual retailers, such as Mattel, Parker Brothers and others?

--How important to you is doing business online with a large, established company as opposed to a newer, not-as-well-known company?

--How confident are you about security in buying online?

--Would you use VR or AR to go shopping?

Join us Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. PDT and 2 p.m. EDT. Almost guaranteed that you will learn something useful.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...