Source: The Next Web, Jun 2012
(see the source for a SlideShare presentation)
Crowdsourcing: Threadless was one of the first e-tailers to let the crowd in on their creative process by letting them vote on their favourite t-shirt designs to go into production. Many fashion brands have tapped into the power of creative platforms, like Polyvore, which leverages its active community for crowdsourcing contests. Moxsie was of the first brands that put customers in the role of the buyer, with its regular scheduled Buyer Chats on Twitter and Modcloth did the same on Facebook, taking things a step further by producing a whole collection based on user-generated designs.
A growing number of fashion sites at the affordable end of the market work with influential bloggers, stylists and celebrities to sell products via e-shops with an editorial feel. London-based Stylistpick, offers consumers a “personalized showroom” full of products selected by well-known stylists. #MyMix for eBay in the UK and Germany is curated by The eBay Style Collective a group of fashion bloggers, stylists and eBay fanatics. Yoox often features a section with picks by celebs like the most recent Orlando Bloom: His choice for her. ASOS finder is curated by its own community.
Sites that used mechanism for personalized curation, like Google’s Boutiques.com, haven’t caught on so far, partly because in order for a successful recommendation system to work effectively it needs significant volumes of user data, and shopping preferences in fashion change extremely quickly. Maybe a hybrid shopping site that uses recommendation engines along with shopping assistance by professional stylists is the next step.
Mixing online and offline
Consumers expect to have the same personal experience when they shop online as with brick and mortar stores and they expect the same convenience and speed in-store at the same levels as they enjoy online. According to research, customers value technology that makes shopping easier, with 63% of the respondents interested in using services like handheld scanners and 45% in-store kiosks.
Interactive dressing rooms and mirrors: Dressing rooms enhanced with augmented reality and social media features could transform the shopping experience altogether. Shoppers this way could easily try on different looks and get feedback from friends in real time.
Major cosmetics brands, like L’Oreal, Maybelline and Shiseidohave already started testing special kiosks (mostly in the Asian market) that enable shoppers to virtually try on makeup by simply taking a picture. The “mirror” takes into consideration skin tone, facial features and product colour to make recommendations and allows the consumer to share a virtual makeover image with friends online.
In-store use of iPads & Mobile: Mobile devices used by sales associates are also perfect for data collection in addition to providing instant access to product data. Of course, something like this would presuppose the constant education of sales people in these tools.
Interacting with products: A customer can easily interact with products online, share them on social media to get feedback from friends, research for styling tips, save them on their wish list to buy later, etc.
Tablets and mobile
Mobile seems to work best for shopping with intent, while tablets seem better suited for more relaxed shopping. According to a survey conducted by Nielsen in Q1 2012, the vast majority (79%) of US smartphone and tablet owners have used their mobile devices for shopping-related activities. Smartphones are used more often than tablets for activities on-the-go: “Locating a store” (73% vs. 42% for tablets ), “using a shopping list while shopping” (42% vs. 16% for tablets) or “redeeming a mobile coupon” (36% vs. 11% for tablet owners).
However, tablet owners are much more likely to use their device for online shopping: 42 percent of tablet owners have “used their device to purchase an item,” compared to just 29 percent of smartphone owners. eBay reached a record $5 billion in mobile purchases (from smartphones and tablets) in 2011 and predicts this number will climb to $8 billion by the end of this year. For Guess, mobile makes up 15% of online revenue. At flash site Rue La La, m-commerce is18% of business during the week and 30% on weekends.
Seeing high conversion rates from mobile, brands are happy to invest further, offering mobile-exclusive offers to consumers, merging mobile shopping with the in-store experience, broadening mobile and tablet capabilities beyond Apple products, shoppable mobile ads ( ex. Kate Spade, Victoria’s Secret ) and adding social elements to mobile shopping.