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My idea of an ultimate shopping App

Today I will talk about something which we do every day and most of us always feel something is missing - I am talking about shopping!

I see some doubtful faces - shopping is super-easy nowadays-is not it? We can buy stuff with just few touches in our mobile. What else you want?

Let me explain..

If you are like me who wants to ensure we are getting the best deal - shopping is still a complicated affair. Say I am trying to buy a MacBook Pro - as this is a costly purchase I am looking for the best deal - right? Sunday afternoon I search it in various eCommerce websites for the best price; I also look for local shops just to ensure there is no better deal. I see online prices are better - and although one site is showing less price, the other site has a credit card linked offer which makes it the best deal. I start checking out and just when I am going to click 'Buy Now', I see that Monday onward there is some 'Shop Local' offer starting with my AMEX Card. Let's wait - this may be the better deal - I say to myself. Next day I visit the shop and find it really is a better deal - they are even adding some better perks like 'Extended Warranty'. Let's buy it - I even run a check on the eCommerce sites to ensure I am not missing out something. I buy it and return home happily - I am the proud owner of a MacBook Pro..I configure it and to declare this to the world open my Facebook. Before I post it I see a promotional link - 'Best Price for the MacBook you were searching yesterday'. OMG - I realized I just overpaid 10%. I closed my Mac - even Apple could not make me happy!

Next day I open my Facebook again - somehow all these eCommerce sites know that I was trying to buy a Mac or in general a Laptop. They push me promos for Apple, HP, Dell and what not! They don't know that I already purchased a Mac and probably don't need another Laptop for next 5 years. This is truly annoying isn't it? Classic case of failed personalisation! 

You are probably now appreciating the fact that purchasing is not that easy nowadays. Things have surely improved in last few years- competition and review sites have ensured that you are not insanely charged or sold some crappy product - but the information overload has also made our purchasing process much more complex and frustrating at times. And then so many adds and promotions trying to get our attention- mostly misdirected.

What are the options- what can be done better? Let me consider the consumer perspective first- what I can look for in my ultimate shopping app? 

My Ultimate Shopping App should allow me to enter my wishlist and all my payment methods and then show me the best offer calculating all possibilities. I can personalise it with my preference anytime (say I want to avoid any specific airlines, and the algorithm reflects the results immediately).

What is my wishlist - say I want to travel to Boston from Aug 15-Aug 18 - show me best offers for Air Ticket, Hotel and Local Activity within a specific budget/target price point. 

This information is shared with all the vendors servicing these specific market and they start sending me their best offers through my Ultimate shopping App. This is similar to a website called where you specify a specific cruise/room type and then the travel agents send you their best offers-you can then pick the best offer and book your cruise. 
In this App we will have some improvements. The App will not only get the offers from various vendors it will find out the best deal after considering everything possible - for example one vendor gives me a 10% discount for using a AMEX card and another vendor gives me a promotional discount of 15% for using a specific mobile wallet (and with a specific promo code), it will consider any difference in taxes, shipping or any other fees- it will then calculate what is the best price and instantly show it to me. It will consider any value-added offers and price it accordingly. 
It will also indicate any known possibilities of a price cut - either from historical analysis of data (e.g. wait till Saturday and your air ticket price may reduce by 5% with 70% confidence) or there is an offer-week coming next week which may potentially reduce your hotel bills. 

This app will converge online and offline commerce. It will consider local offers - e.g. you travel to a shopping mall and the local travel agent knows your requirement and pushes you some offers even better than online players.

So now you are reasonably confident you are getting the best deal - you press pay and the rest of the payment is automatically taken care of after a simple biometric authentication. In technical terms we call it Passive Payments - where payments become invisible. The App will select the best card/wallet, apply the best promo-code to make the purchase and securely connect with the outside vendor. Everyone hates typing same address data again and again!

What else this App offer to me as a customer? Kill switch - I have a need for this requirement for a specific time - and once I finalise the booking or I cancel my trip for some unavoidable circumstances I can just delete this wish and voila no more offers sent to me!

What is the deal for sellers in this model? First of all, instead of a lot of guesswork through machine learning, analytics etc. they know the exact client requirement in real-time and hence they can provide a customised price offer to make a deal. They can see the customer target price point - they can match that to make a sale without exposing the price to everyone in a mass market sale event. It is low-tech but Holi-grail of matchmaking. They also know once the requirement cease to exist so they don't need to bombard the customer with misdirected offers - this saves marketing budget and improves customer satisfaction - no one likes to see promo emails/leaflets in their mailbox which does not meet their needs. This model of handing over the power to customers to tell what they need and then serve the need rather than guess-working through high tech analytics is like Pencil made by Russians to write in Space - low tech but much more effective than sophisticated and costly American Pens.

This is an age of automation but we are still not utilising automation for our personal shopping assistance space. Why we need to shop around in various so called 'deal-sites' for offers, promo-codes and then manually calculate the best offer which is ever changing. Why can't machine do this for me and I just click to complete the purchase peacefully within seconds knowing pretty confident of my decision - that in my view is an idea worth sharing!

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