What is Discovery Shopping?

Mark Wollacott

Discovery shopping seeks to replicate real-world shopping online. This involves filtering searches by styles, brands and other preferences rather than by comparing prices. So, rather than providing for online bargain hunting, a discovery shopping site provides online window shopping.

Discovery shoppers use web search tools to filter their browsing by styles, brands and other factors besides price.
Discovery shoppers use web search tools to filter their browsing by styles, brands and other factors besides price.

Broadly speaking, there are two types of shopper: the hunter and the browser. The hunter will go after specific targets, such as a specific book or product. Browsers tend to have a more general idea of what they want. The browser tends to enjoy the whole shopping experience more than a hunter, though not everyone falls into one category or the other all the time.

Discovery shopping attempts to replicate real world shopping online.
Discovery shopping attempts to replicate real world shopping online.

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Discovery shopping is aimed firmly at browsers. A browser in the real world can walk into a shop and look around at all of its products. In many shops, especially those in which the browser is a regular customer, the sales staff will likely introduce the browser to new products or variations on a product they already own or intend to buy.

Discovery shopping websites are designed to mimic a real-world shopping experience.
Discovery shopping websites are designed to mimic a real-world shopping experience.

The online shopping experience originally did not aim to recreate this experience. Traditional online shopping sites reward hunters because hunters know exactly what they are after. Simply put, it is difficult to browse using these original shopping models.

The second stage in e-commerce was the price-comparison website. This type of website sought to compare prices on the same item sold in different stores. It allowed customers to make an informed choice about their purchase but, again, rewarded hunters who knew what they wanted.

Browsers are able to use discovery shopping websites to tailor their searches to their needs and preferences. This ease of use is combined with a visual format that connects with the user. Search options can include the product’s brand, color and style and can also allow for similar results to be included.

There are several examples of discovery shopping websites. These websites have a front page with large advertisements for marquee products but also a range of search options and social media tools. As well as a direct product search option, the sites have a number of popular searches, categories, suggestions based on prior searches and purchases, and searches based on a friend's preferences.

Discovery shopping websites have the potential to combine well with 3D shopping malls. Many websites and web games involve shopping, usually for in-game products. These same sites offer a multitude of in-game avatars for a user to control around a 3D environment. It is not too much to imagine being able to browse a virtual mall or store and make real-world purchases.

The discovery shopping experience is tailored to shoppers who prefer to browse.
The discovery shopping experience is tailored to shoppers who prefer to browse.

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