Apple revealed a new version of its Apple TV set-top box on Wednesday that comes with an interesting new feature: Shopping. Using the device’s remote control, viewers can buy what they want through the television screen.
The technology was demonstrated by Michelle Peluso, CEO of e-commerce shopping site (and reported dying unicorn) Gilt. Peluso, who said that 80% of the site’s mobile sales come from Apple devices, showed off the ability to browse Gilt’s app, add shoes and clothing to a shopping cart, and then purchase items by clicking a buy button on the remote control.
The beauty of buying within the app, is that customers who are logged into their Gilt accounts can checkout without having to enter their credit card and shipping information. Those details are already entered into their account.
Apple (AAPL) is reimagining the QVC or Home Shopping Network experience of buying straight from a TV, but eliminating the need to call into the network and relay credit card information or using a computer or tablet. The broader strategy for Apple is to make Apple TV for more than just watching a movie.
With the success of Amazon, people are used to shopping in apps on their phones, but shopping from a TV is a different animal. The critical question is whether people have any desire to buy paper towels on their televisions considering that they can already do so through other devices.
But Apple’s push into “T-commerce” could mean consumers will start warming up to the idea of buying items from their TVs. Already a number of new TVs have integrated purchasing into the viewing experience. Samsung has offered “smart TVs” for some time that let users to complete e-commerce transactions from their televisions. Delivery Agent, a startup that has raised funding from Samsung, has worked with some brands, including H&M to allow people to buy items from their TVs. Sony also partnered with Delivery Agent to add commerce features into the manufacturer’s TVs.
But no matter the company trying to popularize T-commerce, the process of shopping through televisions has been generally clunky and time consuming. Whether Apple has finally come up with a solution remains to be seen.
For more on Apple’s new version of Apple TV, watch this video: