13 Startups Changing Lifestyle Through Discovery & Curation
- Macala Wright
- On 12/15/2012
Originally published in February 2012, we’ve reposted because it’s so relevant to the start of 2013.
In 2010, branded content was one of the largest trends among retailers and brands. In 2011, branded content shifted to branded entertainment and social shopping via Kaboodle, Polyvore and ShopStyle. Now, in 2012, it’s content cultivation and aggregation. From creative uses of Pinterest to Instragram’s API, brands are now enthralled with the consumer obsession of curation.
Why wouldn’t they be? By consumers posting and sharing products and photos, brands reap the benefits of SEO, social engagement and build brand awareness all in one sweet “pin.” With the advent of consumer curation of products, online products no longer have a direct sales funnel. So how are we, as retailers and brands, going to get consumers to hit the purchase button when the path has so many twists and curves? By encouraging the curation of our products, of course.
Here are thirteen noteworthy social product discovery and aggregation sites.
Mulu.Me – Launched in December 2011, Mulu is a social sharing platform for sharing the things you love that makes the world a better place at the same time. Mulu, the Chinese word for catalog, allows users to make product recommendations, ask for suggestions and earn money for themselves or a social cause they want to support. While in private beta, celebrity users joined the community, including Amber Tamblyn, Ivanka Trump, Kate Spade’s Deborah Lloyd, HelloGiggles’ Zooey Deschanel, Sophia Rossi, Molly McAleer and R&B artist J.Cole.
“It’s pretty empowering to be able to support a clean water project in Sudan with your killer taste in shoes,” said Amaryllis Fox, CEO and founder, Mulu.
Stipple – Stipple is probably one of the most impressive technologies to launch in 2010. Stipple leverages cloud services for online images, powering commerce and content inside of images on the web and mobile. When people mouse-over or touch a “Stippled” image they are shown useful and accurate information about the people, places, products and prices shown. The company’s patent pending technology syndicates these commerce and content tags to images within its network.
“Brands lose tens of millions of dollars in revenue each month simply by not tagging their products in web photos,” says Rey Flemings, founder and CEO, Stipple. “Editorial images generate billions of page views and if your product is in a photo, but people can’t find out what the product is, then your brand loses marketing value and revenue.”
Buyosphere – Founded by digital pioneer and author, Tara Hunt, Buyosphere is Quora for fashion, interiors and retail, seeking to pick up where the Google product search falls off. As a consumer, what happens when you want to know, “what are the best iPad cases for under $100 bucks?” Well, instead of searching through thousands of images with little relevance to features you want, Buyosphere allows you to ask the question to the community and let your peers make recommendations (with direct product links) for you that are based on the specifications you want in the product. What’s even better is that Buyosphere was built with brands in mind, and brands are actively encouraged to participate on the platform.
When it comes to benefiting from social discovery sites, the one-thing retailers need to create are product pages without flash. “If a store must use flash for image zoom, it is important to detect the type of browser viewing the product page and serve up a regular image file,” says Buyosphere’s Tara Hunt. “To ensure compatibility with all browsers and bookmarklets, HTML 5 is best for zoom.”
Stylmee – Launched in December 2011, Stylmee is the first iPad application that allows users in the fashion and interior design communities to design and create virtual 3D boutiques. Users are able to “design” their boutiques with custom flooring, fixtures, furnishing, accessories and apparel from their favorite retailers and brands. For every action, users earn points for their activities and can cash them in for retailer rewards. The app combines online shopping, product sharing (via Twitter and Facebook integration) with social game mechanics in order to increase brand engagement.
For brands and retailers, the application offers the ability to directly showcase their latest collections and obtain feedback and exposure through game mechanics. Products are viewed and placed in members’ personal boutiques. Once in member’s boutiques, the “Love” that each of these styles receives from other visiting members provides extended insight into the success and value of each style within the community. Members also have the ability to share these styles through Facebook, Twitter and email.
Lyst – Lyst is a social shopping and product bookmarking site specifically targeting fashion. The site allows users to follow their favorite designers, boutiques, bloggers and stylists to get their latest updates in their personally made stylefeeds. “Lysting items is a form of self-expression,” said Chris Morton, CEO of Lyst in an interview with Business Of Fashion. “It’s akin to writing a blog. The act of publishing their lysts also enables users to build their reputation within the online fashion world.”
Discoveredd – Discoveredd is very similar to Pinterest, Lyst and Svpply. The difference with Discoveredd is that if you’ve got a serious case of OCD and like things in grids and lines, you can do that. Items don’t trickle down in free flowing formats, they move left to right in lines.
Discoverred also lets you customize your side bar links and your profile background, something that no other site has implemented yet. As with other sites, by adding the “discover” bookmarklet to your internet browser, you can capture items from around the web and add them to your collections. Discoveredd also has an iPhone app available in iTunes. The site needs some fine tuning in terms of speed and photo addition.
Nuji – A hybrid of Lyst and Svpply, with Nuji, users can save items they like from any online store using the platform’s web bookmarklet tool. With Nuji, users can clip apparel from retailers’ websites they like and purchase them later, follow other users that interest them and also earn rewards and discounts from retailers by tagging their favorite items and having their items retagged by their followers.
Svpply – Considered Pinterest’s primary competitor, this platform allows site members to use Svpply to keep track of the things they want to buy and browse a personal feed of products from across the web that’s curated and filtered by the people and stores they follow and find interesting. Svpply allows users with blogs to embed their Svpply activity via embeddable widgets as well as allows retailers to integrate an “add to Svpply” button to their e-commerce sites.
Olioboard – Olioboard is the interior design equivalent of Polyvore for grownups. For aspiring interior designers and overall design enthusiasts, Olioboard is an easy way to communicate complex artistic concepts visually, it can be a tool used in brainstorming, or simply a visual means for organizing thoughts. Olioboard was created by web design company Keele UX Inc.
“Our main goal for Olioboard is to provide a design and decor focused creative tool that essentially allows members to get inspired and ‘Try It, Before They Buy It.’” says founder Sheilah MacSporran. “For design enthusiasts and DIY’ers, we give them the confidence to tackle any project on their own. For design professionals, we provide a tool that can simplify the sourcing and creative process, while providing a persuasive presentation tool for selling concepts to clients.” Users are able to share, embed and email their creations to their blogs, as well as shop retailer products within the site.
Currently, Oliobard has created successful brand partnerships with furniture retailers such as West Elm, Posh Tots, Layla Grace, Crate and Barrel, Chaisso and Inhabit. Olioboard will also be launching via iPad and mobile apps in mid-2012.
Get Vega – Get Vega is list-creating service based entirely on visual content. The Get Vega platform works as a product comparison and review tool. Users can create lists of products, write reviews and rate them and users can also use it as a social (or private) bookmarking site. What’s impressive is the expansive amount of content that’s being filtered through the platform, from creating visual cookbooks, theme bars in Paris, the best places to visit in Italy, best guitarists and even creating the proverbial “bucket list” of things to do before you die. Once a public list is created, other users can also contribute to lists (such as the quest for the best chocolate) and also rate the quality of a list and its contents. With a much broader audience than just fashion, Get Vega offers retailers the chance to create more contextual relevance to their brand’s relationship to their customers’ lifestyles.
Styloko – Styloko is the new kid on the block when it comes to product sharing and discovery. The site is a hybrid of Pinterest, The Cools and ShopStyle. The one thing that makes Styloko worth noteworthy is the fact is that it’s catering to fashion, art and interior insiders–those with advanced knowledge of not-so-mainstream products.
The site allows users to add items they find to boards where users comment on them, they can also upload images they want to curate via the site’s mobile app and set up specific sale alerts from the brands they follow and shop.
Sumally – Sumally is the Japanese version of Svpply or Lyst. Sumally is a new online service where Tokyo’s top creative talent are sharing their Wants. People can Want or Have any product that they come across online and archive them in a single unified format.
The total number of Wants and Haves on Sumally has exceeded one million, and the number of items archived has surpassed 200,000. The site already has notable head of luxury brand marketing on it (we’re not gonna tell you who) and has a mobile app for iPhone users internationally.
Social commerce is up next for Sumally. “Using a universal catalog of products, consumers will be able to indicate and share their wants, and instead of going to buy a product, merchants will come to sell the product. From the merchant’s perspective, instead of having to spend energy on attracting customers to the store, they can simply go to the consumer who is ready to buy. We would then receive a cut of the sale.” says president Kensuke Yamamoto.
Ninja marketing advice on Pinterest
Pinterest – Pinterest is probably one of the most talked-about technologies on the web these days, one may even say users are addicted to their platform. Pinterest offers brands many benefits in the form of SEO, product links and simple engagement activities like we’ve seen in the Pin Pantone and Land’s End Canvas campaign. Pinterest is brand friendly, laying down ground rules and etiquette, of course.
While their articles on deeper strategy are just starting to surface, we would advise brands interested in leveraging Pinterest as a marketing tool that they must have a strategy for it, much as they would any platform.
For example, when Kate Spade launched their Pinterest presence, the brand had over 1,000 carefully selected images. As the brand develops its strategy, Kate Spade must consider the psychology of audience and not to look at Pinterest simply as an SEO tool. Many of the published articles focus exclusively on SEO, simply because the links are classified as “follow” with search engines.
For bloggers, we highly recommend learning how to create post titles and tags for your Pinterest posts. First start with the name of the board, then make sure your content on that board reflect the theme of what you’re showing. Do this for all of your content here.
The future of retail will be curated
What retailers need to understand is that there is no direct path to online consumer sales. Consumers desire to broadcast and share their lives, and their web behaviors therefore strike out on a non-linear path to purchase. The whole concept of social commerce is now realizing that every platform and network is a potential lead for an online sale.
Social discovery platforms are developing cult followings because they allow users to establish their authority in a certain subject area and to showcase their ability to create inspirational collections of products, items and even destinations. Simple self-expression through the curation of products should be considered every retailer’s dream.
As a retailer, all you have to do is supply images and ideas in a way that’s accessible to the online user/consumer and sparks their desire to do all this work for you. In one swift addition to a consumer “pin, post or add,” retailers can build brand awareness, increase online engagement and create direct links to product pages that lead to purchase conversions.
“We’re demonstrating the power of the peer to peer shopping search,” says Buyosphere’s Tara Hunt. “Algorithms are a long way off from picking up nuances that a person can. And personal taste is full of nuance.”
The future of e-commerce, search, social marketing are now tied to consumers attempting to curate experiences that represent their personalities.