Social Design – Making it a better cat and mouse game

Two weeks ago I was quite fortunate to be invited to speak at the Social by Design event which was organized by Capgemini and Microsoft. During this event I took the liberty to elaborate further on how retailers in specific could harness social design to make it a better experience. Especially since currently most retailers have customer service departments that are more loyalty prevent departments than real service departments. Also something that some retailers (or organizations) in general tend to forget that even though it has always been some kind of cat and mouse game between customer and organization, the customer is now the one who is the cat. He dictates what happens and social media provides him some additional powers in doing so and help in organizing small online revolutions.

To provide some insights in why most current efforts failed I explained the case of JCPenney’s reports on f-commerce and why it failed, something that I wrote about earlier on on my blog. After that I introduced the Social Design elements and explained how they work in some examples of often non-traditional retailers.

The examples I mentioned were:

  • C&A in Brasil which is displaying the number of likes on a hanger for a certain item in store. It provides some additional social proof, plus it provides insights in which item are popular.
  • Lyst. Even though I am not really into high fashion, Lyst is great. As you join you are asked to follow certain brands, people, designers, stores. Based on these choices a personalized shopping suggestion list is build. For each suggestion you can see who also likes this item, but you can also buy it directly. A new way of doing social curated ecommerce.
  • TasteLive. The premiere Wine and Beer tasting community, which connects the offline with the online (tasting beer offline is so much better than online). Provides a platform for its users to connect, but also to share. The frontpage of their website can be seen as a best practice, since it shows very little managed content and tons of generated content.
  • Ovoto shows how things have changed. It is not Google directing people to your site of your product, it is people. Ovoto allows you to take a picture of something and let you ask a simple question about it to your friends (“should I….”) and then provides your friends with the option to vote yes or no on it.
  • Kickstarter show that has become easier to 1) get funding for your product 2) get customers 3) bypass retailers completely 4) earn some decent money as well.
  • Editd is doing fashion forecasting with market intelligence. Which is a highly specific niche, however being a niche might be sometimes better than trying to be everything for everybody. Editd harnesses the data which is out in the open on social media to predict what the next big trends will be in fashion and which brands are loved.
  • Consmr is an app that allows you to scan a barcode and provides you with additional insights on the product with regards to ratings, replacements recalls and other additional information.
  • Stylistpick is quite similar to Lyst, though its approach is different, instead of letting people to choose from different brands, it asks you twenty questions before you join and based on your answers it creates a shopping profile for you.
  • Unbound has similarities for Kickstarter. It connects writers with their audience and lets the audience decide which book will be printed.
  • Hubbub is an interesting platform since it connects local stores and provides visitor with an opportunity to discover great local stores and their offers. They make it even easy for these often small stores to have an ecommerce platform, since Hubbub is taking care of all logistics.

The reason why I closed my presentation with the examples of Sainsbury’s renaming tiger bread into giraffe bread and Sweden which lets every week another Swede to manage its Twitter account is that these examples show how obvious and easy social design can be. It is just a matter of listening and thinking on what really matters for your audience, the audience determines what happen you as an organization might be allowed to participate (on their terms).

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