The New Style Curators?
Last week, the New York Times posted an article entitled: "Web Sites Let You Be an Arbiter of Style: Noticed - http://nyti.ms/dTGf3i" in it the sites http://svpply.com/ and http://www.thefancy.com/ were discussed.
Do you think that more brick and mortar shops like JCrew, Saks, Banana Republic should move in the direction of creating curating and community?
Public unpaid question.
Does anyone else experience this overwhelming desire to purchase stuff when browsing these sites? Curated clipping excites me and hits my impulse buy button in ways that retail shops never have.
To answer your question though, I do think that retailers could have tremendous success adapting certain elements of these curating networks into their retail experience and I suspect that we will see a lot of brands literally adopting influential online style curators as their own.
I would particularly interested to see what J.Crew could do with curating community. They have some of the most loyal customers, and a well established branding story. They have also been a leader in the curating movement-- even long before the advent of these sites. For years their catalog has featured collaborations with like-minded brands, helping them establish the branding story of J.Crew and their classic American 'heritage'. They are however quite reserved about opening up and reaching out to their brand fans, so it may be a while before we see J.Crew make such a move.
It's certainly a compelling idea, but I'd add one note of caution: to be done successfully, the retailer needs to think of the story being told through these collections. Particularly with The Fancy, the collection of chosen items provides a pretty fascinating profile of the user, especially when compared to other forms of identity-building on the web (e.g. tweets, blogging, Facebook). As these collections take shape, they inevitably form a type of narrative about the curator.
For a brick and mortar retailer to effectively participate in these communities, they would have to take a similar approach. They should take the concept of "curation" literally, developing collections that tell a story, or center on a thought-provoking theme, or complement each other to provide unexpected solutions. Better yet, they should ask individual shoppers to create their own collections from the retailer's offerings. After all, what makes these sites so compelling are the ever-varied stories that they tell about the individual participants. Essentially, this would lead to the creation of more visual, stylized versions of the lists on Amazon's Listmania! section (http://j.mp/g93spI). Without those stories, the retailers are really just taking the traditional mail-order catalog and dumping it online.
Funny that this question was posted up because last night, I was trying to decide whether I should continue using my svpply account or switch over to thefancy. I've decided to keep those two but mainly use pinterest.com. I like pinterest because you're able to create your own 'boards', pin onto them, and tag/write descriptions for each 'pin'.
I DO believe that brick and mortar shops should be both aware of other sites like this, monitoring them and also creating their own - it's a great form of market research. Help them understand trends or what people enjoy looking at - I mean, if consumers are going online to research their product, a majority of their interest is in what the product looks like right? If they like what they see, they will continue to read on (price, dimensions, colours etc...). Even if price was their main buying concern, they'd still choose something that looks much appealing at $19.99 than something else that doesn't look as interesting at the same price point.
I do. I think this trend and sites like Svpply and The Fancy are fantastic examples of extending the reach of a brand or trend. The big brick and mortars can really take advantage of sites like these by having their own "style ambassadors" that continually play an active part within these communities.
Hosting something like this on their own websites for their customers to curate their brand is another fantastic idea, which I think is more of what you were alluding to I think. I can see this really play well with the bigger luxury stores that carry numerous high end brands (Neimans, Saks, etc.) where their customers can play an active role in determining what's popular and what's currently trending.
I think even the big online shops like Amazon (mentioned by Mr Klein from Svpply) or the flash sale sites like Gilt Groupe can really benefit by building and moderating the communities through their own sites, effectively driving sales of currently trending items.