Es geht nicht um Technik

„Ist das die Zukunft des Shoppings?“ Fragt Markus Breuer angesichts des OTTO Stores und trägt ein wichtiges Argument vor:

Was mich an der Zukunftsfähigkeit dieses Projekts zweifeln lässt, ist wirklich nicht der Neid. 🙂 Es ist die Tatsache, dass es sich um einen Online-Shop handelt,

  • der nur auf PCs mit Microsoft Vista (unter Aero) läuft
  • den ich downloaden muss, bevor ich ihn nutzen kann

Ich muss ganz ehrlich sagen, dass ich das für einen Rückschritt halte. Auch wenn Microsoft Vista in 2 – 4 Jahren vermutlich das meistverwendete Betriebssystem sein mag, ist es für Endanwender sicherlich nicht wirklich angenehm, für jeden Shop eine separate Applikation herunterladen zu müssen.

So ist es. Die Zukunft des Onlineshoppings sind nicht unbedingt proprietäre Clients, die nur auf einer einzigen Plattform laufen. Das erwartet vermutlich nicht einmal Microsoft.

Der OTTO Store zeigt, soviel ist richtig, die Möglichkeiten von Windows Vista. Das hat auch seine Berechtigung und ist das Anliegen von Microsoft. Aber viel spannender sind die neuen Möglichkeiten für einen kataloggetriebenen Versender wie OTTO.

Homevideo von shoppingzweinull.de

Es geht um Bedarfsweckung, Erlebnis und Entertainment (um mal Dr. Thomas Schnieders zu zitieren, Direktor Neue Medien bei OTTO). Es geht um neue Formen der Warenpräsentation und um Emotion. Und es geht um eine intelligente Verbindung von Katalog- und Onlinegeschäft.

Denn die Diktatur des besten Preises, unter der große Teile des E-Commerce-Geschäfts ächzen, gilt ja im Bereich Mode allenfalls teilweise – nämlich dort, wo Vergleichbarkeit herrscht. Geht es aber um die passende Hose zur Bluse, dann können guenstiger.de und Ebay nicht helfen.

Was die Technik angeht, so stehen wir hier vor dem klassischen Henne-Ei-Szenario. Second Life, um mal ein Lieblingsthema von Markus Breuer herauszugreifen, braucht auch einen (anfangs mehr, mittlerweile weniger proprietären) Client.

Ich hoffe, dass da ein noch paar Ideen mehr entwickelt werden und „Shopping“ im Internet auf Dauer mehr sein wird, als nur in einem Katalog zu blättern. Im Kern des „Shopping-Vergnügens“ in der physischen Realität stehen ja kollaborative, soziale Ansätze und die räumliche Nähe und inhaltliche Diversität vieler verschiedener Anbieter.

So ist es. Warten wir es ab. Ideen sind hier nicht die knappste Ressource. Soviel steht fest.

The Future of Shopping?

Today, Windows Vista appeared in, according to Bill, 39,000 stores. Quite possibly a big deal for many people who spend as much time in front of a computer as I do, but not for me, at least not when compared to the launch of the OTTO Store.

OTTO, for readers outside of Europe, is the no. 1 worldwide retailer in mail-order sales, and no. 2 behind Amazon in online sales. Maybe hard to believe, considering almost noone knows their name outside of Europe, but apparently it’s a fact. Americans have, however, certainly heard of Crate & Barrel, which is one of around 20 companies which belong to the the OTTO Group.

SinnerSchrader Studios, where I work, was lucky enough to be approached by OTTO and Microsoft, to develop a shopping application for OTTO which would run in Windows Vista. This became a challenging and exciting project for us which started last summer and culminated in the launch today. As of a few hours ago, you can download and install the OTTO Store (if you’ve already installed Vista, and have a good understanding of German).

OTTO Store

I’ve been designing stuff for the web since 1993. After working for so long in one medium (which to be honest hasn’t changed that much since then) it was a shock and in a way a relief to work on an app for Vista. It reminds me of the good old days of CD-Roms, when you could animate your heart out, throw in videos all over the place, and even spin things around in 3D if you wanted to. With Vista, and today’s growing bandwidth, that’s all possible again. It’s like a whole new world, and requires a whole new way of thinking. No more boxy layouts designed to make content management systems happy, no more pseudo piece of paper layouts, and no more browser. The OTTO Store is a self-contained application which is installed on the user’s machine. The fact that it’s a “download once, use many” experience gave us the freedom to think up stuff for which a user would never wait for his browser to show him.

As for the development process, “challenging” is a polite word for it. Since this was a joint project between us, OTTO and Microsoft, we had access to their development software (once known as Sparkle, now known as Blend, either way also known by the imminently forgettable name “Microsoft Expression Interactive Designer”) in the alpha and beta phases. This was obviously a blessing and a curse. Web designers are used to fully functional, stable programs like Adobe Photoshop. The security of knowing you can work all day and save when you go home is a feeling I learned to miss. On the other hand we spent a week in Redmond, got to give our feedback directly to Microsoftians, and were pleased to see most of our problems solved in successive versions.

The relief and pleasure of having the OTTO Store finished and online is noticeable throughout our whole team — all of whom I must add worked far more and harder on the Store than I did — but a big question mark remains in my head. Is this really the future of shopping? Noone can answer that question yet, but I’m very interested to see how many people download it, and of those, how many actually buy something. I’m honestly pleasantly surprised that a company as large and old as OTTO had the guts and vision to invest in something so innovative which may, at first, bring so little concrete return.

I’ve also got to say I’m proud and excited to be a member of one of very few teams who can realise such a project today in Germany. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen anything this new, worked in such a close-knit team, and learned so much at work.

More about the OTTO Store

Originally published at mattbalara.com.