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Clothes, shoes, furniture, groceries. All things that were widely predicted to be impossible to sell online, yet increasingly added to millions of virtual baskets around the world. And that's just beginning. The following sub-trends show why, with the right infrastructure, anything that is bought, will be bought online too.


Buying something that can’t be seen, touched or tested will forever be a barrier. Many popular e-tailers have borne the risk of returns in an attempt to overcome shoppers’ fears, but new technologies mean that customers can be ever more confident that they are making a perfect purchase first time.

Upcload: Sizing via a CD and webcam

With Berlin based Upcload, shoppers stand in front of their webcams holding a CD as pictured, to generate a personalized size profile that can be used when purchasing apparel products. The North Face is currently trialing the system in the US.

Bodymetrics: Living room to fitting room

UK based Bodymetrics launched its LivingRoom fitting product at CES 2012. The PrimeSense 3D technology can map a user’s body using Kinect-like 3D sensors. When attached to a TV, shoppers can virtually ‘try on’ clothes and see how they will fit on their body shape.

Zazzle: Visualize art on the walls

Launched in December 2011, US based Zazzle’s Realview enables users to upload their own photographs to the site in order to visualize how the DIY e-tailer’s prints and artwork would look in their own home.

Brayola: find perfect bra size

Israel’s Brayola, which launched in February 2012, aims to help women buy perfectly fitting bras online. Rather than using measurements, the site asks women which bras they already own that are comfortable, and then matches them against its database to recommend similarly fitting bras.


With customers’ NOWISM and lust for instant gratification (and combined with the frequent difficulties in receiving goods bought online), making delivery seamless or even a delight should be right at the forefront of every e-entrepreneur’s or e-tailer’s mind. And while ‘click and collect’ services remain popular with online shoppers, also check out these recent innovations:

Shutl offers speedy deliveries

UK based Shutl offer deliveries in as little as 90 minutes across much of the UK. In March 2012, the brand announced that they were partnering with Maplin, an electronics retailer, to offer delivery in over 40 cities.

The Corner & FedEx: Try-while-they-wait-commerce

Italian fashion e-tailer Yoox offers customers in China enhanced delivery services when they order from the dedicated Chinese version of its luxury multi-brand site, The Corner. In partnership with FedEx, Chinese shoppers can expect delivery staff to wait while they look over their purchases, try them on and decide whether they want to keep or return them.

Slice: Keep the surprise while tracking online gifts

Slice enables users to track all their online purchases in one place. In December 2011, the company rolled out their 'Track With Friends' feature, enabling recipients to track their gifts without revealing what they are or how much they cost.

Giftwhip: Virtual gift wrapping

And it’s not just physical goods that are ripe for innovation. Giftwhip aims to make receiving online gift cards, vouchers or virtual goods more exciting. The service creates a virtual present, which recipients can’t open or view until the ‘unwrap date’ set by the giver.


We first looked at the rise of subscription-based sites last year, but with their winning combination of convenience and curation ensure that this is one 'trend' that you should be sure to sign up to ;-)

Memberly: Run-your-own subscription service

The emergence of a platform is always a sure sign that a trend is booming, and Memberly, a platform that provides a back-end administration panel and payment handling for online subscription services, is no exception.

Frank & Oak: Only pay for what you keep

Frank & Oak offers a twist on the fashion subscription model. Based in Montreal, members of the site’s Hunt Club are sent a monthly email with that month’s fashion selections. Customers select between one and four items that they wish to receive by post, and unwanted items can be returned free of charge.

Los Paderos: Artisan breads in Brazil

Los Paderos is a Brazilian site that sends subscribers three loaves of half-baked artisan bread each week. Customers can then store the loaves in the fridge for up to two weeks; when they’re ready to eat them, they simply finish baking them.

La Ferme des Echancées: ‘Contrat Poule’

In October 2011, French farm, La Ferme des Echancées made its ‘Contrat Poule’ (‘Chicken Contract’) service available to 50 towns. ‘Subscribers’ receive packages of eggs for one year, and at the end of the nesting season they can opt to have the carcass delivered to them to cook.


Most internet users are now (fairly) comfortable with shopping online. Yes, concerns remain, but online sales continue to significantly outpace all other spending, despite the occasional well-publicized glitch. However, the checkout process too often remains far from seamless, creating opportunities for any innovation that makes paying online quicker, more convenient, or more secure.

PayPal Access: Single sign-in

Citing the high abandonment rate when consumers are required to register at a new site to complete a purchase, eBay launched its PayPal Access product in October 2011. The initiative allows consumers to login to, and pay at participating e-tailers without having to register a new account.

Facebook Credits: An alternative currency?

Facebook announced in February 2012 that it had partnered with a number of the largest mobile operators, including AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefónica, T-Mobile USA, Verizon and Vodafone, to enable users to make Facebook Credit purchases via mobile operator billing (i.e. see the charge appear on their mobile phone bill).

Flipkart: Virtual ‘wallet’

Indian online shoppers often face issues with payment gateways, perhaps explaining why many e-commerce transactions are still settled with cash on delivery. Hoping to smooth the payment process, Flipkart, India’s answer to Amazon, introduced a feature where customers could deposit up to INR 10,000 (USD 190) in an online ‘wallet’, enabling users to check out quickly without having to re-enter their credit card details.

Amex: Sync with Twitter

American Express launched its Sync initiative in March 2012. Cardholders can link their credit cards to their Twitter accounts, to receive coupons and discounts for tweeting certain hashtags. For example, users who tweeted #AmexWholefoods received a USD 20 credit on purchases of over USD 75. Participating brands include H&M, McDonalds, Best Buy and Zappos.


You are reading part 3 of's (R)ETAIL (R)EVOLUTION.

Read the other parts here »