Who really cares about fCommerce anyway? Social Shopping, sure. eCommerce, in general, of course. But all I am hearing about are storefronts that maybe connect to our social networks. Most ecommerce offerings have sharing functions or even Facebook open graph to allow buyers to broadcast their purchases or browsed products to their friends. I want something more.
There are some cool innovations. Even some innovative business models like Warby Parker’s disruptive approach to eyeglasses. But I was in Philly for the weekend and I wanted to buy local designers t-shirts, jewelry, messenger bags, unusual flotsam and/or prints. I love designers. Always have. When I travel, I like to find small design-focused businesses. I like to buy local and support the economy (great, high-minded view of shopping, don’t you think?)
So why don’t I have an app that collects designers in local markets wherever I travel? I am on to Vevey, Switzerland on business this week. I would love to just punch a button like I do on my weather app and collect a listing of local designers ready to connect with a sympathetic buyer. Why do I have to work so hard browsing dozens of Web sites to try and find my unknown friends out there?
Make it Authentic
With Love from Brooklyn (thanks Springwise!) kinda does it. While they curate mostly food products developed in Brooklyn, it is all for sale online. If I am in Brooklyn visiting, there is no storefront where I can go to stock up on Brooklyn authenticity. I guess I could go visit the various businesses individually but as you saw, food isn’t my thing. Philly has a few neighborhoods like any city but designers don’t clump up so nicely. So even though I can view all of these businesses in Old City on one web site, it’s about the neighborhood not about designers.
I would have hoped that Design Philadelphia would have filled much of the role. Sadly, that remains more of an event website that gets relevant once a year and then goes stale (see all the content about the Design Week last October). Kind of a missed opportunity there. Etsy could also do this although it wouldn’t support their business model. They would need to adopt an affiliate marketing model if they started to give me my Philly Design map to let me visit artisans directly when I hit town. They could do it. They just won’t cause it’s not an important revenue stream for them.
I have a set of persistent interests. Amazon knows this in a way. The recommendations I get fed are robotic suggestions derived from my shopping behavior. Clearly, they are not going to point me to storefronts in Philly even if they did sell what I am after in design.
Reverse the Marketplace
I want a reverse marketplace model. I have some enduring interests - in this case local designer-made goods. I am a digital omnivore so, I want access on my mobile phone as I walk the streets, via my tablet as I sit on the couch and plot my trip and via my laptop as I take a “shopping mindful moment” at work. I should be able to express my interests (imagine me clicking on 20-30 Pinterest “pins” to teach my shopping agent what I like). I need all ways to buy – online and when I am on the ground. I need every advocacy utility to post on Facebook, Twitter , FourSquare, etc… And I want to connect with designers who are keen to meet a potentially enthusiastic fan.
Too much to ask? Perhaps, but its time to innovate.