Move over, Daily Deals and Flash Sales, “Crowdsourcing” is now the biggest fad in ecommerce.
Sites in which members invent, design, curate and market products for the marketplace are gaining in popularity. Three such sites shared their stories at a panel at the Shop.org conference in Denver last month, and online merchants attended to see if they could use the concept on their own sites to increase customer engagement and boost sales.
David Wachter wanted to learn how his company, JimmyJazz.com, might engage with its urban-clothing customers to inspire designs and new products. “Urban clothing is now a dirty word,” and Hip Hop artists like Beyonce and Jay-Z don’t wear their own clothing lines, Wachter said.
“Everyone is wearing the same clothing, we’re looking for new innovation, and it’s not coming from the community,” he said.
Norwest Venture Partners‘ Josh Goldman, a venture capitalist who is betting big on the community-commerce model, moderated the panel. He told attendees that social commerce is not turning out to be what people thought it would be a few years ago and called the model used by the panelists “social operations.”
The three panelists sounded as idealistic as eBay founder Pierre Omidyar had when he pitched customers and investors on his community-focused auction site in its early years, before eBay went public and eventually moved away from its community model.
None of the panelists thought the term “crowdsourcing” fully described their companies’ model. “Who wants to join a crowd,” asked Quirky founder Ben Kaufman, who said his company engaged in “push and pull” conversations with users. “If it’s a contest, call it crowdsourcing,” but that’s not what Quirky does, he said.
Threadless’ Shah said true community-focused sites go to the community for strategic decisions. “If you don’t have the right group, it’s crowdsourcing. If you have the right group, it’s community.”
He also said you must get people in at the beginning, “otherwise it’s just feedback, not ownership.”
What These Companies Do Differently
The three companies rely on community members to submit ideas, vote on submissions, and help market the site.
The Latest Streaming News: Community Commerce Sites updated minute-by-minute
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