This happens all the time in physical stores.
Walk into a store and someone will kindly ask you? “May I help you?”
Sometimes the answer is yes because you have something in mind. but often it can be a simple, “no thanks, just looking” because you are in browse and discovery mode
I don’t know about you but the latter experience hasn’t made it over the web yet. To me, online stores are about transactions and some do it much better than others. It’s really about putting stuff in your cart and then buying it.
Now before you end up making a purchase decision, there are a lot of great web services that help us make better and more informed on the front end – price comparison, user reviews, etc. Thankfully these have all become much better and no doubt that will continue.
But i’m looking for something that replaces the simple and act of “just looking”.
That “just looking” thing is very important and useful. It’s a big reason why buying stumbling on a cool thing in a store rarely happens online.
In the past, i’ve seen folks try to take a 3d and virtual world approach to the discovery part of the shopping experience. Those never took off. Far too complicated and replaced utility with eye candy.
Someone’s is going to nail this. It’s a big opportunity.