The CEO of Gilt.com (an amazing luxury ecommerce company), Susan Lyne just revealed her vision of the future of “curated” commerce.
She describes why Gilt “curates” their site and shares 3 new rules for doing business online. That’s great, but let’s go further and just say it — these 3 secrets apply to all businesses. Whether you sell online or otherwise, to attract and retain customers you need to follow Ms Lyne’s 3 rules.
Why? Because your customers have fundamentally changed the way they buy. They are more informed, more connected and more time-starved than ever before. Whether you are B2B, B2C or something else, the last 5 years have dramatically changed your customers expectations and needs. Are you giving them what they want?
You can watch Susan Lyne’s interview on the right side of this post… it’s short and sweet. Then, consider applying her 3 rules to your business as follows:
- Curation. Think of your product line as a collection in a museum, and you are the curator. Consumers are overwhelmed with choices, so they take a short-cut and rely on the advice of professionals. When everything in the store is already selected just for me, where I buy becomes more important than what I buy. (For example: Buying a bottle of wine from the world renowned expert Robert Parker seems like a much safer bet than pulling a random bottle from the shelves at Target.)
I call this “Efficiency by Elimination” — as a seller you should eliminate what sucks, so that your customers can select from a small group of great products. It saves them time and means customers will be happier in the end. If you are still offering your customers the same broad selection they can find on Amazon, you aren’t providing any real value.
Make your product or service offering match your brand concept. If you are a discounter, ditch the riches. If you are a craftsman, chuck out the cheap stuff. If you are targeting Spanish-speaking customers, don’t bother with English. Consumers are looking for — and buying from — the niche players that help them de-clutter the choices today.
- Content. Old school media like newspapers and magazines still write gushing articles about cool new products… without telling you where or how to buy them. That’s so 1980’s! Editorial rules may try to keep content and advertising separate, but consumers want and need content to help them buy.
In fact, I’d say that Content Creates Context, so buyers can instantly understand your product and why they need it. Plus, providing great stories, data, information and analysis shows that you are an expert (see point 1 above). For example: I know I want to vacation in Greece, but reading a Travel & Leisure magazine article about Norwegian cruise lines convinced me to go to Greece by boat. Quick, where is that “click to buy” button when I need it?
So forget “editorial rules”. Capture your customer by creating both content and context for their purchase. Then make it easy to buy by tying the content to your sales process. You’ll be the hero, and your sales will climb.
- Game Mechanics. Huh? Let’s just use the word “FUN“. There is simply no reason to make business or life or shopping any more difficult or boring or tedious. Even if your business is deadly serious, you can keep the process simple and the interaction fun.
Fun is a differentiator and a bond. Fun creates an emotional tie between you and your customer. Throw in the competitive nature of a real “game” and fun can also spark strong repeat business.
As they say, “Nothing is certain but change”… and the needs and habits of buyers have certainly changed. Our hyper-connected world has made consumers more well-informed but also a bit more weary of the vast selection available. Consumers need (and deserve) more from us.
So keep up with your customers by giving them Curation, Content and Game Mechanics (or, “Efficiency, Context and Fun”).
Dedicated to your (Carefully Curated) profits,