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

App review: WeSwap

It’s all about the “sharing economy” these days. Think Uber, Airbnb and JustPark. Sharing is starting to become a ‘thing’ in the finance sector too; TransferWise is a good example in this respect. I recently came across WeSwap, which is a peer-to-peer travel money exchange service founded two years ago. I decided to review the WeSwap app and these are some of my findings:

  1. How did the app come to my attention? – I recently read an article in the Financial Times, titled “Travel money venture cashes in peer-to-peer cash.” WeSwap got quite a lot of coverage in the article and that’s how I found out about it.
  2. My quick summary of the app (before using it)? – Similar to the model behind TransferWise, I believe WeSwap helps people to exchange currencies without having to pay hefty bank fees.
  3. How does the app explain itself in the firs minute? – Before entering the actual WeSwap app, I see a screen which states “WeSwap helps you save on your travel money.” This is followed by the explanation “by swapping your money with other travelers, travelling in the opposite direction (see Fig. 1 below).”
  4. Getting started, what’s the process like (1)? – Despite the app being a bit slow to load, the account creation process felt very intuitive, clean and nicely laid out (see Fig. 2 below). I did feel a little bit of confused as I thought account creation was going to be a 1-step process (see Fig. 3 below). However, after I’d submitted my email and and password, I got a screen which showed a 3-step account creation progress bar at the top (see Fig. 4 below). I then had to give up on the the account creation process, as I was doing this on the go and didn’t have personal ID files that I could upload, nor was I fully clear on why this was necessary to create an account (see Fig. 5 below).
  5. Getting started, what’s the process like (2)? – From the screenshots that I’ve looked at (see Fig. 5), the WeSwap interfaces and interactions feel very clear and intuitive. What I couldn’t test, however, was how self-explanatory the “swaps” and “loads” are. I believe that the ability to explain the currency ‘swaps’ to casual users will be critical to the success and adoption of WeSwap.
  6. How does the app compare to similar apps?Currencyfair and Kantox offer a service similar to WeSwap. However, they don’t seem to have a mobile app. Transferwise, another WeSwap competitor, do offer a mobile app. The TransferwWise app feels very accessible, and is focused on being easy to use.
  7. Did the app deliver on my expectations? – I feel I can’t really answer this question, having given up during the account creation process. The way the app presents itself in the first few screens feels very intuitive and simple, but I hadn’t expected the sign-up process to feel as onerous as it did. That could just be me and not the app, but it did stop me from using the app on the go.

Fig. 1 – Screenshot of WeSwap opening screen (when using the app for the first time)

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Fig. 2 – Screenshot of account creation process in WeSwap 

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Fig. 3 – Screenshot of account creation process in WeSwap – Step 1 

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Fig. 4 – Screenshot of account creation process in WeSwap – Step 2

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Fig. 4 – Screenshot of account creation process in WeSwap – Step 3

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Fig. 5 – WeSwap screenshots – Taken from: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.weswap.app

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WeSwap 2

App review: Amazon Seller App

How do the likes of eBay, Amazon Handcraft, Notonthehighstreet, Rakuten and Etsy go about supporting the small businesses who sell products through their platforms? What are some of the typical data and customer insights that these sellers benefit from and why? Amazon recently launched its Seller App aiming to “help grow and manage your selling business on Amazon.” I had a quick look at the Amazon Seller App and these are my initial thoughts:

  1. How did the app come to my attention? – Since I’ve started working on online marketplaces I tend to keep an eye out for new technology and tools available to the sellers on these marketplaces.
  2. My quick summary of the app (before using it) – I expect a mobile app, which helps sellers to keep a close eye on their sales figures and manage their orders.
  3. How does the app explain itself in the first minute? – The first screen of the app asks me to select my marketplace (see Fig. 1 below). It doesn’t provide any further context but I presume that if you’re an active seller on Amazon you might not need any further info.
  4. Getting started, what’s the process like? – I’m not a seller on Amazon, but looking at some of the screenshots and the data provided, I can imagine that sellers will find it relatively easy to use the app (see Fig. 2 and 3 below). What I’m curious about though is the data syncing between devices, making sure your sales data is as ‘real-time’ as possible. I also couldn’t get a sense of whether (and how well) the Seller App integrates with Amazon’s Mobile Credit Card Reader.
  5. How does the app compare to similar apps?  The Amazon Seller App feels very similar to the Sell on Etsy app and SellerMobile. For example, the Etsy app enables sellers to manage their open orders and revisit completed ones on the go (see Fig. 4 below). The Etsy app also offers sellers the opportunity to check their Etsy shop and product views, but I’m not sure whether this analytics feature is included in Amazon’s Seller App.
  6. Did the app deliver on my expectations?  Yes, based on what I could tell from the screenshots and app description. The app looks the provide the key stats and insights that marketplace sellers tend to be interested in. What I could not tell from the screenshots is how the app facilitates sellers who sell on multiple marketplaces, for example in the UK and the US. I know this is a reality for lots of small businesses and it would be good to find out how the user interface of the Amazon Seller App accommodates for this use case.

Main learning point: The Amazon Seller App looks fit for purpose, providing sellers with key sales information that’s visual and easy to manage on the go. Analytics and multiple marketplaces are two areas where I’m not sure how (well) they are covered by this app. However, if you sell products through Amazon and want to keep a close eye on your orders and sales, then this app should give you the key information to help you manage your activities on Amazon’s marketplace.

Fig. 1 – Screenshot of opening screen on Amazon Seller App (iOS)

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Fig. 2 – Screenshots of Amazon Seller App (iOS) – Taken from: http://www.allmediatalks.com/amazon-in-launches-its-seller-app-in-india-amazon-online-selling/

Amazon Marketplace

Fig. 3 – Screenshot order detail view on Amazon Seller App (iOS) – Taken from: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/amazon-seller/id794141485

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Fig. 4 – Screenshot of the ‘Sell on Etsy’ App – Taken from: https://blog.etsy.com/news/2014/introducing-new-mobile-app-just-for-sellers/

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Related links for further learning:

  1. http://tamebay.com/2015/06/amazon-marketplaces-eu-release-seller-app.html
  2. http://techcrunch.com/2014/03/06/amazon-debuts-an-official-mobile-app-for-amazon-sellers/
  3. http://www.retailwire.com/discussion/18003/its-good-to-be-an-amazon-marketplace-seller
  4. http://www.fiercewireless.com/europe/story/mobile-app-helps-amazon-sellers-shift-2b-items-2014/2015-01-05
  5. http://www.allmediatalks.com/amazon-in-launches-its-seller-app-in-india-amazon-online-selling/
  6. http://www.wired.com/2014/08/amazon-mobile-credit-card-reader/
  7. http://techcrunch.com/2014/10/23/etsy-moves-further-into-the-offline-world-with-launch-of-card-reader-for-in-person-payments/
  8. https://blog.etsy.com/news/2014/introducing-new-mobile-app-just-for-sellers/

How made.com connects online and offline

Made.com has been around for a good few years and has made a name for itself by offering designer furniture online. However, I hadn’t realised that apart from their online platform, Made.com also have 2 showrooms (in London and in Yorkshire respectively). Keen to find out more about how Made.com combine a user’s online and offline experience, I went to their London showroom to see for myself:

  1. CloudTags – When you enter the Made.com showroom, you will see a stand stacked with white tablets (see Fig. 1 below). These devices enable you to scan individual items in the showroom. You can scan visual “Near Field Communication” (‘NFC’) tags on each item. Scanning these tags with your device will get you more information about a specific piece of furniture and create a list of items you’re interested in. Made.com can then email you the list, which enables you to do further research on the items that you’ve looked at (see Fig. 2 below). This also provides Made.com with valuable data on its users .
  2. Product discovery – I really liked the product pages that came up on the handheld device as I was scanning CloudTags on products. For example, when I scanned a “Landsdowne Upholstered Bedside Table”, I got a product page which was clear, visual and which encouraged me to look at similar products (see Fig. 3 below). From this product page, I found it really easy to look at the bedside table in different colours and to explore different products by type and collection respectively. Also, the email that I got from Made.com included both the item that I’d looked at as well as “recommended products” (i.e. other items in the Landsdowne collection).
  3. Don’t forget about the iBeacons – Based on my in-store selections, I expect Made.com to be able to build up a good profile of my furniture preferences. In addition, Made.com uses iBeacon technology in-store which, in combination with the tablets, generate data on e.g. customer dwell time. Made.com can then use this data to personalise its marketing and showroom merchandising strategies.

Main learning point: I really like how Made.com are combining the online and offline user experience. When you go in-store, their combined experience feels intuitive and seamless. I’m curious to see how Made.com will continue to build on this combination of online and offline touchpoints, and how it will use the data which it generates in the process.

 

Fig. 1 – Handheld tablets as used in made.com’s showrooms – Taken from: http://www.essentialretail.com/news/article/53be97c7361cb-in-pictures-madecom-showroom-trials-tablet-shopping-experience

Made_com using Cloudtags tablets in showroom 2

 

Fig. 2 – Screenshot of the email confirmation screen of Made’s tablet

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Fig. 3 – Screenshot of the Landsdowne bedside table on Made’s tablet

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Fig. 4 – Screenshot of the email I received from Made.com following my visit to their showroom

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Related links for further learning:

  1. http://www.made.com/about-us
  2. http://www.thedrum.com/news/2014/07/10/madecom-attempts-connect-offline-and-online-store-product-scanning
  3. http://www.essentialretail.com/news/article/53be97c7361cb-in-pictures-madecom-showroom-trials-tablet-shopping-experience
  4. http://www.cloudtags.com/
  5. http://www.rfidjournal.com/articles/view?12024
  6. http://www.cityam.com/214513/intelligent-design