Recently, I have been thinking a lot about the role of technology in creating meaningful customer experiences in retail and Birchbox is a great example. Although this is a beauty discovery service and it is important to have a wide range of samples, to a large extent, the real value behind Birchbox is in its algorithms and data capabilities and the products are commodities.
I was recently thinking about the importance of proper A/B testing to make meaningful changes to one’s website and customer acquisition strategy and I was frustrated by my lack of knowledge – great to know there’s a hack! This is a compelling product and my only concern would be that now Optimizely has proven the value of its services, data giants like Adobe, Amazon and IBM could easily follow suit and crowd them out, particularly as they can bundle various business services.
A really interesting post about the future of the insurance agency. This is certainly a risk mitigation tool for Progressive and, in the not so distant future, I imagine we could see premiums that vary in real time and at the individual level – e.g. a lower premium when your car is parked in the driveway and a higher premium when you are driving above the speed limit. The implications for other insurance categories are interesting too – maybe health insurers will start tracking FitBit and Jawbone data and adjusting premia accordingly. Health insurers already reward good behavior like vaccines and gym memberships with rebates and this would function in a similar, but far more granular, manner.
Great post! I love the idea of crowdsourced beauty and the opportunity to democratize makeup because until recently, it was incredibly difficult for women of color to find foundation and other makeup that suited their skintones as big beauty brands dictated makeup shades and created them for Caucasian skin. I agree with the concerns raised above that Julep mavens may not have the same interests/desires as the mainstream market. Continued user engagement may also be an issue – the reward for mavens’ participation is being able to purchase products they want to own, but the post notes only one new product to come out of the IdeaLab in the past year, which makes me wonder if mavens may start to lose interest in participating if their product wishes don’t come to fruition soon.
This post raises a number of important issues related to creating a successful crowdsourcing campaign:
– Subject matter: does it make sense to crowdsource a highly technical legal document like a constitution? Is the average Icelandic citizen well-versed and engaged enough to participate? The drafting committee does help ensure the constitution will be legally valid but it also removes the feeling of ownership and some of the transparency from the process.
– Process design: as you pointed out, the drafting process excluded the (democratically-elected) members of parliament who were needed to pass the document. Furthermore, by allowing open-ended feedback, it became difficult to parse through comments and figure out which topics had the most support – a poll of some kind would likely have made more sense.
– Metrics for success: Is 1% of the population higher or lower than expected? Is 1% engagement for an important document like a constitution enough for it to be valid and accepted?
I agree, great post! Successful crowdsourcing seems to hinge on the crowd’s attitude towards sharing information and ideas; among software engineers, there is a culture of opensource code, which has spawned companies like Github. Among artists and writers, there is more value placed on personal recognition and reward, as well as ownership of intellectual property, as your post highlights. Secondly, the value proposition for the crowd is also a factor – what is in it for people to submit logo design ideas, particularly when only one person can win? If Moleskin crowdsourced ideas for a new style of notebook or limited edition color, they would likely have a more positive reception and higher user engagement as idea creators would benefit from buying the type of notebook they wish existed.
You raise some great points in your post on the consumer adoption hurdles to Apple Pay. As you say, in a two-sided network like this, it is crucial to have a large number of merchants on your platform as well as consumers. I believe Apple Pay is facing significant hurdles in bringing merchants onboard and expanding into new countries because of how they have chosen to capture value. Apple has negotiated with U.S. banks to classify Apple Pay payments as “card present” which command lower interchange fees than “card not present” transactions that have a higher risk of fraud. In addition. Apple asks for a cut of the interchange fees (that usually go to the credit card companies and processors) believed to be at 15 cents per $100. Apple therefore has a vested interest to maintain the high swipe fees (typically 3%) that are charged to merchants unlike competitors like Square (2.7%) and LevelUp (1.95%). Apple faces challenges expanding internationally with its business model as interchange fees are often lower in countries other than the United States – it is currently facing pushback from Australian banks who do not want to pay a percentage of their interchange fees to Apple, even if the payment app is more secure than other modes. It will be interesting to see if and how Apple adapts its business model going forward.
Great post! I like JG’s suggestion and Karthik raises some really interesting points.
Content distributors are focused on capturing the exclusive rights to TV shows and, in the past few years, developing original content. As a result, users like myself are forced to multi-home if we want to watch House of Cards (Netflix), Transparent (Amazon), and The Mindy Project (Hulu). It would be interesting to know what the multi-homing rate is among online TV/movie distributors. Quality, a particularly subjective measure for entertainment, is a major decision-making factor here. However, Netflix is arguably in front of peers in terms of the quality of its user interface and data analytics. It could push even further in this area (lose your queue of shows, friends’ recommendations if you leave Netflix) and optimizing for tablet/mobile/multi-screen viewing to increase switching costs and grow its share of the pie.
Interesting post! I have some concerns about the direct network effects of WeWork’s approach because it is inherently limited by physical space to the number of tenants they can fit in a location and the local talent in the area (in terms of startups and mentors/guest speakers). Introducing an online forum and member database, if they have not already, could create an exclusive social network that would help them grow the direct network effects of being a WeWork member. The indirect network effects of this model are fascinating and WeWork will likely attract more companies to their platform as they further their reputation as a start-up hub with the launch of its accelerator.
I found your post really interesting as I had not heard of eSalon before. The above commentors make some insightful points about the future direction of the company. To chime in, one potential target market that could greatly benefit from eSalon’s services is minority women. In a lot of places, including Boston, it can be really difficult to access hair salons that treat ‘ethnic’ hair because they are located outside of the city center. Many of them are informal and don’t offer the luxurious experience of a mainstream salon visit but they can charge a premium because of a lack of competitors. Although the internet has a wealth of tutorials on how to make fishtail braids, messy updos etc, hair advice for black and latina women and eSalon could fill the void.
Great post! In fact, I was going to write my post on the topic of how digital is now transforming the in-store experience along with enabling e-commerce. Rebecca Minkoff is at the forefront of creating an easier, more personal in-store experience using custom, built-in technology, thereby eliminating the awkwardness of making a personal styling appointment and then feeling pressure to buy products at the end. This is the first step towards bringing the personalization that companies can offer on their e-commerce sites from the minute customers log on to brick-and-mortar locations. Typically, a store can only pull up your customer profile when you present your loyalty card at check-out – if you make it to the register. Rebecca Minkoff could use the in-store technology to recognize customers as they walk in the door and populate the dressing room mirror/ in store displays with recommendations based on their previous purchases, likely increasing conversion to purchase.
WeWork’s success is particularly interesting when you consider that renting shared, temporary office space is typically a less-desired, lower-status alternative to a permanent office of one’s own. WeWork has been able to build a ‘hot’ brand with a start-up feel and leverage that brand to expand nationally. However, beyond brand, I wonder what their competitive advantage is in this space. Nazli’s comment notes the in-house incubator, which could be that barrier to entry, but, as of now, craft beer kegs and yoga classes are not enough to keep out new entrants. Furthermore, as they grow, WeWork must figure out how to face increased scrutiny and criticism about their choices – the recent open letter on TechCrunch about the absence of lactation rooms in their Golden Gate location is likely only the first public complaint that they will face as they continue to grow.