Online shopping is now part of all our lives. If we need to buy something, we are just as likely to reach for the mouse as the car keys. But our attitudes to shopping online are mixed. Many of us know and trust only a handful of shopping websites, and the quality of sites thrown up in the search engine results is often disappointing. What is more, the process of shopping using search engines is uninspiring. It is a bit like a college research project, where you have to wade through pages of text results to find what you are looking for.
The Online Shopping Town aims to change all that for UK shoppers. Its aim is to marry together the best aspects of internet shopping with the experience you get walking around an attractive real world shopping town or outlet village. The site features shops that are laid out attractively in visual moving streets that you can wander around and explore.
So what does this give you that the search engines do not? Firstly, ideas, the chance to discover fantastic new shops that you might not have found otherwise. All the shops are handpicked by the editorial team, whose ethos is only to include shops they would recommend to their friends. And through the voting and comment system, you can get to see which places are most popular with other shoppers.
Secondly, a fun and informative shopping experience. The shops are visually presented, with images of the kinds of products they sell. And as you navigate along the streets you get to see junctions to related streets, so you have the chance to be inspired and find other things that you did not realize you needed until you saw them!
Thirdly, bargains. The database is regularly updated with current discount codes and voucher codes, which show up as part of the shop information as you walk around the streets.
The creation of the Town is a rolling project. The first quarter to be built featured popular online clothes shops ranging from exclusive fashion boutiques to bargain designer outlets and places to find comfortable casual clothes or practical outdoor wear. There is a home and garden section, featuring shops selling furniture, home accessories, and even online garden centers. And there is a food quarter, where you can find farm shops, wine merchants and delicatessens as well as online supermarkets and places where you can buy prepared meals delivered to your door.
The Town also caters for people planning holidays. The shops in the travel quarter are all online travel agents, or hotel sites, or other websites that are useful for people planning or booking holidays. There are sections for family holidays, luxury holidays, activity holidays and self catering. And within each section you will find streets of specialist sites, including things like safari holidays, boutique hotels, sailing holidays and much else besides.
Perhaps above all, the Town aims to be a first choice destination for people looking for gift ideas. There are so many online gifts ideas and shops available the trick is finding the good ones. The Online Shopping Town brings together streets of shops that are great for each category of gift gifts for children, gift for him, gifts for her, for whole family or any occasions and special events. Significantly, these are not only the shops that market themselves as gift shops. They include the niche shops and boutiques selling things which are genuinely useful, fun or attractive. The sort of gifts that will not end up just sitting around as unwanted clutter.
If you like the idea, drop in and take a look around! Online shopping needs to become easier and more enjoyable, and The Online Shopping Town might just be the answer…