Two years ago, Amazon tried something called Windowshop, an interactive Web app that aimed to make the online book-browsing experience more like the in-store book-browsing experience – more tactile, and a greater emphasis on the "lucky find." It didn't take off with users, and that window was shuttered not long after.
Harvard Book Store, however, has recreated the window shopping experience to great effect on its website, and in the process created something that is unfortunately rare: a complex, Flash-based navigation scheme that is a pleasure to use. You simply move your mouse around the screen to "walk" up and down the street, and to draw closer to the windows. Clicking on a book in the window brings up the "add to cart" option, along with any pertinent pricing and promotional information.
They've also nailed the look and feel, creating a genuine sense of ambiance: posters and T-shirts seen through the window, bicycles parked out front. This is a great interface that truly makes this retailer stand out. Check out these screenshots:
James Bickers is the senior editor of Retail Customer Experience, and also manages webinars for Networld Media Group. He has more than 20 years experience as a journalist and innovative content strategist, with publication credits in national, international and regional publications.