What’s happening in ‘content commerce’?

Last week I wrote about Grabble and reviewing their app spurred me on to look at other apps in the ‘content commerce’ space. In essence, content commerce is about obtaining revenue from your digital content, irrespective of the form the content comes in (e.g. blog, film, music, etc.). These are some of the content commerce examples I looked at:

The Hunt

The Hunt‘s strapline reads “Style & Shopping” and that’s exactly what you get. Very much image driven, the user can search for fashion and styling ideas. I didn’t find the app the easiest to use, and I wasn’t sure about the ‘return of investment’ I was getting on the effort I had to put in to find a piece of clothing ‘similar to this’ (see Fig. 1 below). I can see, however, that The Hunt does help users discovering new fashion items and sharing these with their friends for input.

Fig. 1 – Screenshot of an exact match for Dark Maroon Nike’s – Taken from: https://www.thehunt.com/the-hunt/dhXw8s-dark-maroon-nike%2527s

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Gilt

Gilt is a member’s only community which offers products from the world’s biggest fashion and accessory brands with discounts of up to 70 percent. I can imagine that Gilt acts as a trusted style adviser in the eyes of its community members and I can therefore imagine its curated ‘top picks’ section to get a higher clickthrough rates than similar sites (see Fig. 2 below).

Fig. 2 – Screenshot of ‘Top Picks’ on Gilt – Taken from: http://www.gilt.com/

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Spring

Spring is another good example of an eCommerce site with a strong curated feel about it. Spring offers an Instagram-like photo feed of products to purchase, with a curated community of brands that includes luxury labels and emerging designers. The collections displayed have been curated by influencers and editors (see Fig. 3 below). Spring has no shopping cart. After users have initially filled out credit card and shipping info, they just swipe beneath an item to buy it. And after users like an item, the relevant seller can send them push notifications.

Fig. 3 – Screenshot of collection on Spring – Taken from: https://www.shopspring.com/

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Product Hunt

Product Hunt is one of my favourite places when it comes to finding out about new gadgets and technologies. The combination of a dedicated community curating the products shown based on votes and related conversations between community members works really well. I know that the good people at Product Hunt are looking to expand into non-tech areas, and it will be interesting to see if and when they’ll be able to build up a community around fashion for example.

Fig. 4 – Screenshot of ‘products’ screen on Product Hunt’s iOS app

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Mumsnet

If we take the definition of content commerce at its most basic level, then I would say Mumsnet is a great example. Mumsnet is a large community and acts a go-to place for lots of mothers and mothers to be. Below example of a page where users can read trike and ride-on reviews as well as engage in ‘discussions of the day’ is a really good example of how you can combine relevant content with eCommerce (see Fig. 5 below).

Fig. 5 – Screenshot of Mumsnet product reviews page – Taken from:http://www.mumsnet.com/reviews/on-the-move/trikes-and-ride-ons

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Related links for further learning:

  1. http://www.practicalecommerce.com/articles/78916-13-Innovative-Mobile-Commerce-Apps
  2. http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/38837.asp#multiview
  3. https://stacksocial.com/
  4. http://www.forbes.com/sites/lorikozlowski/2014/02/05/where-content-meets-commerce-apps-gadgets-and-drones-all-hand-picked-by-humans/
  5. http://www.ebaypartnernetworkblog.com/uk/2014/03/06/ebay-launches-collections-follow-passion/
  6. http://content2commerce.com/agenda/
  7. http://www.econtentmag.com/Articles/Resources/Defining-EContent/What-is-Content-Commerce-80914.htm
  8. https://branch.io/content-analytics/
  9. https://gigaom.com/2010/10/26/419-why-content-and-commerce-is-a-marriage-made-in-heaven/
  10. http://skimlinks.com/features
  11. https://www.shopdirect.com/
  12. http://www.diagonal-view.com/

App review: Grabble

“Grabble: Buy Fashion and Shop With Style” is the tagline of the app on the iOS app store. I’m intrigued by the name of this app and its tagline. Is Grabble like Asos or Net A Porter, or is it more like Thread … Grabble is one of the few apps where I really don’t know what to expect. All the more reason to do a review and see what this app is all about:

  1. My quick summary of the app (before using it)?  I expect an app that will help me buy clothes that suit my style and budget. Fashion recommendations might well be the strongest point of this app; using my data and that of users with a similar style to make relevant suggestions.
  2. How does the app explain itself in the first minute? – When I open the app, I am immediately impressed by the great moving images (see Fig. 1 below). This first impression reminds me of the Audioboom app, I like the aspirational people and stylish items of clothing. There are clear calls to action at the bottom of the screen, making it easy for me to get started. But, at this stage I’m not entirely sure what I’ll be signing up to … a personal fashion adviser, a fashion eCommerce app or a mixture of both? I decide to click on the cross in the top right corner of my screen to see what happens.
  3. Getting started, what’s the process like? – This is good. By clicking on the cross, it seems that I don’t have to sign up straight away. Instead, I just need to indicate whether I want to shop for men’s or womenswear. After I click on menswear, I land on a screen which provides me with more clarity about what the app is all about: “your daily feed of great fashion, beauty and homeware. Every day our team of stylists find the best products online.” I now understand that if I sign up to Grabble, I can expect to receive daily alerts about the latest, carefully curated fashion and style tips. When I click on “next” at the bottom of the screen, I see a picture of an old-school gramophone and a green heart which says “Grab it!” (see Fig. 4 below). If I want to ‘grab’ this item, I just need to swipe to the right and I’ll be alerted as soon as the item goes on sale. I can always swipe to the left if an item doesn’t suit my style (see Fig. 5 below). Everything comes together when I land on a screen where I read that I can buy my “favourite Grabs easily and securely. And get free delivery with every order!” (see Fig. 6 below).
  4. How does the app compare to similar apps? – In terms of pure user experience, I feel that only Pinterest comes close. Adding, viewing and ‘visiting’ my pins are all part of one seamless and simple experience (see Fig. 7 below) however, the retailer integration on Grabble feels more seamless and intuitive. By contrast, when I first opened the Nuji app (see Fig. 8 below), which is a close competitor in the UK, I didn’t find the first image particularly welcoming. Better was the simplicity of Fancy (see Fig. 9 below), although this app doesn’t feel half as stylish and inspirational as Grabble and somewhere between the two sits Wanelo (see Fig. 10 below).
  5. Did the app deliver on my expectations? – Yes and no. Let’s start with the ‘no’ part. It took a while for me to understand what the app was about. Initially, I thought I’d be subjected to an experience similar to Thread where I’d have to enter my style preferences, physical attributes, etc. On the contrary, the effort required felt minimal and I got the sense that once I start ‘grabbing’ or buying more items, Grabble’s recommendations will be on the money, especially given the large number of brands – 1,500 – on Grabble’s platform. Once I got that, it felt like the perfect app, but I do believe the app can work harder on making that clearer upfront.

Main learning point: I can now understand why big fashion retailers such as Zara, Uniqlo and Asos are all on Grabble’s platform, as it provides such a seamless integration between product discovery and purchase. Apart from the fact that it took while to understand the app’s main purpose, I really like the way Grabble recommends products within different categories based on the items users either ‘grab’ or ‘throw’.

Fig. 1 – Screenshot of Grabble’s opening screen on Grabble’s iOS app

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Fig. 2 – Screenshot of the “I want to shop for …” screen on Grabble’s iOS app

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Fig. 3 – Screenshot of Grabble’s first menswear screen on Grabble’s menswear iOS app

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Fig. 4 – Screenshot of an item that I can ‘grab’ on Grabble’s iOS app

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Fig. 5 – Screenshot of an item that I can ‘throw away’ on Grabble’s iOS app

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Fig. 6 – Screenshots of main landing screens on Grabble’s iOS app

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Fig. 7 – Screenshot of my “Sneakers worth checking out” board on Pinterest’s iOS app

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Fig. 8 – Screenshot of the landing screen of Nuji’s iOS app

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Fig. 9 – Screenshot of Fancy’s landing screen on iOS

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Fig. 10 – Screenshot of Wanelo’s landing screen on iOs

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Related links for further learning:

  1. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/festival-of-business/11423613/Grabble-app-raises-1.2m-from-high-profile-e-commerce-angels.html
  2. http://www.forbes.com/sites/edmundingham/2015/01/19/tinder-for-fashion-app-grabble-targets-1m-users-as-ecommerce-moves-to-mobile/
  3. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2891194/Is-Tinder-FASHION-Swipe-right-style-matches-shopping-app-Grabble.html
  4. http://startupbeat.com/2013/10/16/grabble-targeting-fashion-forward-freshers-social-fashion-commerce-platform-id3507/
  5. http://techcrunch.com/2014/05/13/u-k-wanelo-competitor-nuji-launches-a-weird-app-with-an-interactive-woman-as-part-of-its-interface/
  6. http://www.businessinsider.com/pinshoppr-2012-5?IR=T

Learning more about EdTech (2)

A few days ago I wrote about some popular apps within the educational space and I’d now like to focus more on some of the current (technology) trends within the “EdTech” space:

  1. Shift from ‘asset based learning’ to ‘continuous learning’ – We’re already seeing a shift away from the traditional educational model – where learning happens through courses or certificates and has a defined endpoint. John Seely Brown, in a talk called Cultivating the Entrepreneurial Learner in the 21st Century describes this traditional model as an ‘asset-based’ approach. Instead, we’re starting to treat learning as a lifelong process consisting of deliberate practices aimed at constantly getting better. I can imagine that this will have a significant impact on educational technology. For example, learning might become more of a ‘playful’ activity and something which is ‘consumed’ much more on ‘pick and mix’ basis rather than the more linear approach that we’re used to.
  2. Subscription learning – Some trend watchers have been predicting a model where for example universities do much more than just providing you with academic content. It’s about creating a “full stack” model whereby the education provider becomes a school, recruiter, a lender and an employer, all merged into one. This could mean that students have a lifelong relationship with their university, coming back to it as their career and their professional skills evolve.
  3. Combining adaptive learning and competency based learning – The combination of a student picking up some specific competencies (‘competency based learning’) at a pace and in a format tailored to the individual (‘adaptive learning’) is something that technology can well facilitate. I believe this will be one of the biggest trends to watch in the EdTech space over the coming years. As a simple example, I’m currently doing a UX Design course online where I can work through the modules at my own pace and go over specific aspects with my tutor, who I Skype with once a week.
  4. Gamification in educationGamification, as the concept around motivation and rewards, will continue to have an impact on education. The channel through which you access the educational content becomes secondary, it’s all about the ways in which people the subject matter is presented to people and how hooked they become. As a result, learning effectively becomes an ongoing habit (see my point about ‘continuous learning’ above). A good example is Lifesaver which is a prize winning campaign that combines interactivity, live-action film footage and time based decision making activities to teach CPR on your tablet, smartphone or computer.
  5. Enable ‘flipped learning’ – Flipped learning is an approach whereby students watch lectures and read related content online, and then go to a physical classroom to do their homework, under the personal instruction and guidance of teachers. The underlying idea here is that it will increase student engagement levels, both in and out of class.
  6. Bring Your Own Device – The ‘BOYD’ approach builds on the reality that a lot of students already bring their own devices to school and use them for their own needs. Rather than trying to constrain the educational approach and content to a single device or operating system, the idea here is that the content should be device agnostic. I’m sure that over time the technology will get better at ironing out scalability, security and compatibility issues, but BOYD taps into the reality of students having their preferred devices and ways of working.

Main learning point: It feels like there’s a lot of opportunity for innovation and transformation within the educational space. It will be interesting to see at what pace this change will take place and its impact on our education.

 

 

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Image taken from: http://www.videojeeves.com/blog/e-learning-for-kids/

Related links for further learning:

  1. https://medium.com/towards-a-remarkable-career/on-building-a-daily-habit-of-continuous-learning-82ef77a8aff9
  2. http://www.fastcompany.com/3020758/leadership-now/why-deliberate-practice-is-the-only-way-to-keep-getting-better
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massive_open_online_course
  4. https://www.td.org/Publications/Blogs/L-and-D-Blog/2014/07/Stuck-in-An-E-Learning-Box-Try-Subscription-Learning
  5. http://blog.ouseful.info/2015/08/27/student-for-life-a-lifelong-learning-relationship-with-your-university-or-linked-in/
  6. http://er.educause.edu/articles/2015/8/data-technology-and-the-great-unbundling-of-higher-education
  7. http://elearningindustry.com/5-killer-examples-gamified-elearning
  8. http://www.edutopia.org/blog/flipped-learning-lets-talk-tech-jon-bergmann
  9. http://www.edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2015/06/iste-2015-6-tech-trends-educations-horizon-2015-2020
  10. http://www.k12blueprint.com/byod

Learning more about EdTech (1)

I’m currently doing an online course, learning more about UX design, and I’ve already provided my course provider some feedback on how they can improve their online course experience … I guess I can’t help myself. This experience prompted me to look into the education tech or the “EdTech” space a bit more, starting by checking out both popular educational apps and technology trends within this space. In this post, I’ll have a closer look at three popular educational apps in Udemy, Lynda.com and Khan Academy.

Udemy

Udemy’s motto is “Online Course Anytime, Anywhere.” It’s a purely online service, offering over 32,000 courses on any device to over 8 million students. For example, I’m currently learning about creating prototypes using Axure, and Udemy offers an online course on how to best use this tool (see Fig. 1 and 2 below). Compared to some of the online courses which I’ve done previously – on design thinking and gamification for example – the Udemy approach feels quite interactive, offering more opportunities for students to interact with their instructor (see example in Fig. 3 below).

Fig. 1 – Screenshot of “Mastering Axure RP 7: UX Design Prototyping” by Udemy on iOS

 

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Fig. 2 – Screenshot of “Mastering Axure RP 7: UX Design Prototyping” by Udemy on desktop

 

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Fig. 3 – Screenshot of Discussion about “Mastering Axure RP 7: UX Design Prototyping” by Udemy on iOS

 

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Lynda.com

Earlier this year Lynda.com got acquired by LinkedIn and it felt like a significant acquisition. Similar to Udemy, Lynda.com enables “On-the-go learning”, making it easy for students to switch between devices and operating systems. The two features I like on Lynda.com is that one can preview a specific course (see Fig. 4 below) and the way in which related or suggested courses are displayed, both on desktop and on mobile (see Fig. 5 below).

Fig. 4 – Screenshot of  “Google Analytics Essential Training” by Lynda.com on desktop

 

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Fig. 5 – Screenshot of suggested courses to look as part of the “Web” Category on Lynda.com on iOS

 

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Khan Academy

Whereas Udemy and Lynda.com are aimed at slightly older audiences, the mission of Khan Academy is to offer “A personalised learning resources for all ages.” The story of Salman Khan who started out by posted his math video tutorials on YouTube in 2004 is well published. This eventually turned into a well established platform which teaches maths and other topics to kids from a kindergarten age and beyond. For example, when I watched a video about the basics of adding and subtracting, it felt very intuitive and I could see how I could use this video to teach my two young boys (see Fig. 6 below).

Fig.6 – Screenshot of “Addition and subtraction” video on Khan Academy iOS app 

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Main learning point: Even by just looking at these three apps, Udemy, Lynda.com and Khan Academy, I feel that there’s so much opportunity for educational providers to create new digital products and services, offering students personalised learning experiences.

Related links for further learning:

  1. http://www.forbes.com/sites/schoolboard/2015/05/11/the-only-metric-that-measures-the-success-of-education-technology/
  2. http://edtechreview.in/trends-insights/trends/2053-trends-in-educational-technology
  3. http://www.edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2015/06/iste-2015-6-tech-trends-educations-horizon-2015-2020
  4. http://techcrunch.com/2015/01/03/teachers-will-embrace-students-smartphone-addiction-in-2015/
  5. http://blog.capterra.com/best-elearning-apps-businesses/
  6. http://c4lpt.co.uk/top100tools/
  7. https://press.linkedin.com/site-resources/news-releases/2015/linkedin-to-acquire-lyndacom
  8. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacobmorgan/2015/04/28/what-linkedins-acquisition-of-lynda-means-for-talent-management/