Certain factors (taste, smell, and physical interaction to name just a few) still compel people to continue to shop in the ‘real world’. But the online world has its advantages too, especially when it comes to things such as collaboration, accessibility, reach, transparency and shareability.
In fact, consumers now expect the online experience to not just match the offline experience, but to improve on it in ways that are difficult if not impossible to replicate offline.
E-commerce is an endless aisle, in which consumers can shop niche products from all over the world as well as in the online mega-malls such as eBay and Amazon.
And the appeal of small-scale, artisan shops is just as strong online as it is offline. Indeed online consumers can now easily discover (whether via personal tips or via trusted curators) even the smallest, most obscure store selling quirky, unique or storied products that perfectly align with their particular interest or tribe.
On the business side too, it’s easier than ever to open an online store, as there are now endless platforms and solutions that make it virtually effortless, from Shopify, Payvment, eBay Xcommerce to Taobao and more.
With Love from Brooklyn is an online retailer that only sells items created by local artisans. The site’s products range from the iconic Brooklyn Cruiser, to locally made food, drinks and preserves, to the works of local artists.
LocalBrand.co.id is based in Indonesia and exclusively stocks Indonesian high-fashion designers, with a goal of supporting and promoting local brands on a global stage. An online magazine also features photo shoots, interviews and pictures of Indonesian ‘street style’.
Launched in December 2011, Never Liked It Anyway is a marketplace where users can sell items connected to past romantic relationships. A wide variety of products are available on the site, generally at a discounted ‘break-up’ price, with many unwanted gifts such as jewelry, or items connected with engagements or marriages like wedding dresses.
Launched in January 2012, Cuelcinha is a Brazilian site that sells fine lingerie collections for men. Products include high quality boxers and panties made with fine fabrics, animal prints and lace inserts. Pieces are designed to fit the male anatomy in comfort, with elasticated detailing.
One of the things that comes easily online is mass collaboration, and the crowdsourcing trend is one that we’ve been watching for a while (check out our first look at CROWD CLOUT way back in 2007!).
Now, with more consumers than ever pretty much constantly online and plugged into social networks, it’s never been easier for shoppers to harness the power of the crowd in new and innovative ways.
While e-commerce often promises low prices, sometimes finding the best price can be difficult and/or time-consuming. Australian site FlightFox allows travelers to set up a contest where online travel experts can compete to find the best available prices for future trips. Users pay an AUD 29 ‘finders fee’ (refundable if a cheaper flight is found within 48 hours), and the site claims to save people AUD 369 per trip on average.
Launched in China during December 2011, deal site Handsup.cn invites users to submit ideas for products they would like to see on its virtual shelves, and suggest how much they want to pay for them. Users can then vote for the deal, and if it proves popular, Handsup staff contact the brand or business in question to try and arrange the promotion.
In November 2011, Amazon asked its Facebook fans to vote on which discounts it should offer during the Black Friday to Cyber Monday period (two popular days for shopping in the US). The 30% discounts were available on the e-tailer’s specialist sites, Soap.com, Diapers.com, Wag.com and YoYo.com.
Launched in September 2011, Greek website Galoo allows users to suggest the price they are willing to pay for an item, and invite friends to ‘strengthen’ their negotiating position. If a seller agrees to the suggested price, the two parties organize payment and delivery.
We’ve looked on a number of occasions at TRANSPARENCY TRIUMPH, and how the availability of online information is reshaping consumer expectations and corporate behavior (check out our recent Trend Briefing on FLAWSOME ;-).
If transparency 1.0 was all about the excitement at being able to see exactly what other (real!) people thought about products or services; transparency 2.0 saw this become just a default element of decision-making; now transparency 3.0 will be about making almost all aspects of the transaction and experience transparent: manufacturing, pricing, reviews, popularity, and even personal relevance.
Launched in Belgium in January 2012, Honest By is a sustainable, fully transparent apparel brand and e-tailer. For every product available on the Honest By site, full information is available on manufacturing (including working conditions), material and supplier sources, pricing, and ethical or organic certifications.
Hotels.com recently implemented a feature that showed visitors to its site how many times the hotel they were viewing had been booked in the past 24 hours.
February 2012 saw KLM roll out its Meet & Seat initiative. The optional service allows passengers to link their booking to their Facebook or LinkedIn profile and select a seat next to the individuals they find most interesting.
Igluu is a free Brazilian service that lets consumers browse multiple sites and create virtual shopping lists (online or on their smartphones). For each item, the service shows users which participating store offers the cheapest price, and once they’ve picked the store to order from, Igluu transfers their shopping cart to that retailer to arrange delivery.
Successful retailers in the ‘offline’ world are often those that make a store visit an enjoyable or exciting event (including those, as we showed in RETAIL RENAISSANCE, who use technology to enhance the experience and bring the benefits of online to the offline world).
Rather than trying to replicate the offline experience, e-tailers can deploy new techniques that make e-commerce ‘fun’ in ways that physical retail can’t match, such as allowing consumers to collaborate, compete and turn shopping into a (virtual) game.
Launched in the UK in October 2011, Fantasy Shopper is a social shopping game that gives users fantasy money to browse, style and ‘purchase’ clothes from over 300 real stores. Players can unlock major world shopping destinations, and complete challenges to boost their ‘fashionista reputation’, all while earning real discount codes and vouchers for participating brands.
Mimicking Japanese department stores’ ‘fukurburo’ (lucky bag) sales, shoppers with Little Black Bag receive a mystery bag with a selection of fashion and beauty products every month. They then have a week to trade with other users to make their perfect collection. To further increase the excitement, selected bags contain prizes worth 4 to 5 times the value of the bags.
Online, everything is available to everyone, so the story goes. Yet for consumers, anything scarce or exclusive instantly makes it that much more attractive.
Now a number of brands and entrepreneurs are seeking to introduce true e-commerce exclusivity, and thus tap into consumers’ desire for unique or memorable experiences (and the great STATUS STORIES that come with them).
Fashion PR firm KCD launched Digital Fashion Shows at New York’s Fashion Week in February 2012. The site hosts virtual fashion shows, streamed only to invited guests.
Swedish rapper Adam Tensta released his latest single ‘Pass it On’ via a Facebook app. The catch? Only one copy of the track exists, and users are required to sign up to join the queue to listen to it. Once they reach the front of the ‘queue’, users have one hour to listen to the track.
Celebrity chef Heston Blumental’s Fat Duck restaurant is famous for its immersive experiences, and from February 2012, diners who succeeded in getting a reservation received an email inviting them to view an exclusive animated stereo experience. The link could be accessed four times only.
November 2011 saw daily deal site Gilt Groupe offer members the chance to rent a Virgin America Airbus A320 plane (seating up to 145 people). The deal was priced at USD 60,000, and individuals could choose a name for the plane and have this painted on the side of the Airbus.