Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Hey shopper... we're tired of trying to figure out what you want. Do it yourself!

So here's one that makes me finally get off the bench and speak up. I don't know whether to laugh, cry or applaud but I have a feeling of all of the above here.

An article on eCommerce Times about a new startup named iStorez has me in this quandary. So what we have here, basically is the ability for the shopper to assemble their OWN store, real-time based on a set of either search criteria... or some other relevent group.

The challenge is... there are a LOT of us consumers out there... building each of us a custom "store front" isn't really scalable. Therefore, the retailer has to "guess" based on the data they have. This has them walking the fine line between what they think "feels" personalized vs. what we think is "down right creepy." This is a tough one you try to "guess" as a retailer. Paraphrasing Carrie Johnson from Forrester in the article Personalization as the buzzword but done right... usually serves the retailer well. But when it isn't... not so much.

We would all love the ability to know our consumer so completely that we could change our stores for each of you... but... the fact is a lot of us never will have that complete understanding. Also... consumers are funny... they ACTUALLY change their minds sometimes :-)

So I like what iStorez has done here. They OUTSOURCED the problem to the consumer! They are letting the consumer do the personalization themselves based on OPEN DATA POINTS... what you're shopping for. They are not some online survey... not some creepy quasi-data-driven guess. iStorez is trying to provide the platform for consumers to personalize on... and let them decide how they want to shop for your goods. They may be onto something here.

My thought... Millenials will flock to this... IF they can get a more "social" component to it. It is like the ultimate mashup of Facebook-shared shopping list, comparison shopping engine, search, and a good old-fashioned eCommerce site. To me, this is as O.P.E.N. as it gets for a consumer/retailer relationship right now. A key for iStorez will be to make it so easy for retailers to participate... that it is "like" any other "product feed" they may have to manage, that the selection of product is there to drive this. IF the product is there, THEY will come.

Finally... someone given control of the "personalization" to the "person." Could be interesting to watch.


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