We live in an era of unparalleled consumer choice. Whether you’re buying a t-shirt or a car or concert tickets or a bottle of hand soap, there’s a dizzying array of options available. For shoppers, that can be intoxicating—and also overwhelming.
More and more, consumers are seeking guidance about what, exactly, they should buy. And more and more, digital developers and vendors are creating tools to steer them in the right direction.
Welcome to the age of curated shopping, in which experts (read: retailers, app developers, industry tastemakers and even peers) present tailored lists of what to buy for a buying pool that’s growing fast. It’s changing buyer behaviour in a big way—and, if you’re in retail (or an industry that supports it), it’s not something you can afford to ignore.
The latest installation of The Future In Store video series from retail analyst Doug Stephens and social-media expert Amber MacArthur highlights apps and websites that help consumers find exactly what they’re looking for. Here are four of the top tools they peg as leading the charge.
Of all the product-recommendation apps out there, MacArthur says Wish may be the one to watch. Why? Because the shopping site—which users can sign up for through Facebook or email—picks up on patterns in what its users are interested in and intuitively presents similar options for them to buy. The more they buy (or place on a wish list), the more tailored the offerings become. And if they share offers with a certain amount of friends on Facebook, they receive get a gift card. It’s growing quickly in popularity—Wish says it has 500,000 active users—in large part to the exclusivity of its wares. That’s right—not just any vendor can peddle on Wish. You have to request an invitation to sell, and then earn approval, before you can get a shot at these buyers. (Once you’re in, Wish will skim off a percentage of your sales.)
Givted helps solve a perennial problem: the group gift. (Think: for newlyweds, departing co-workers, new parents, and more). Traditionally, Stephens says, purchasing a gift with a group of others is a logistical annoyance: “You have to figure out what to buy, then you have to figure out how much everyone has to contribute, and somebody has to go to the store to buy it,” he explains. Givted—which Stephens bills as “crowdfunding for gift-giving”—lets people chip in whatever they want for products that have been selected by the recipient from a variety of different retailers. Once enough has been raised to cover the cost of a coveted item, the recipient receives a voucher to redeem for it online or in-store. No more passing around the hat at the buffet table.
3. The Hunt
Ever passed someone on the street wearing a shirt you love and wished you knew where they got it? The Hunt is a site that aims to help. Take a photo of your desired item and upload it to the site, and an engaged user community of some 300,000 fashion-lovers will chime in on where to buy it. Fans of the site love it, as do such high-profile investors as former supermodel (and professional peddler of “smizing”) Tyra Banks. Right now the site’s managers are focused on building the user community, MacArthur says—there’s not yet a direct way for retailers to participate—but with membership growing every day, it’s a good source of intel on what fashion-hounds are looking for.
4. Google Maps
The most popular mapping tool in the world is entering the curated content realm, thanks to the revamped Google Maps interface (which launched for desktop in May and as a mobile app in July). The new Google Maps recommends places to visit (categorized by “eat,” “sleep,” “play” and “shop”) based not only on the areas users want to visit, but also on their current location, tailoring suggestions based on their past search preferences, the preferences of their friends, and reviews of those in their circles. According to Stephens: “This new app from Google is taking maps from being tools of navigation to tools of discovery.” And the degree to which your business can benefit will depend greatly on how Google-friendly it is.
Here’s the video in its entirety:
How else can you give consumers a curated shopping experience? Do you see potential for any of these tools in your business? Share your thoughts by commenting below.