Giving online retail a personal touch
Online shopping is set to become more direct and more personal. The ‘pile it high and sell it fast through a ludicrously efficient website’ model may still be prevalent, but I’m fascinated by some of the attempts to bring a bit of old-school direct salesmanship to online shopping.
Earlier this week, I watched this video interview
(don’t ask why it’s on Yahoo Sports, I have no idea) with the founder of Threads
, a luxury fashion retailer that sells exclusively through the messaging apps its customers already use (WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat etc). The next day, I met a startup working on a product that would essentially any retailer to do the same thing.
Meanwhile, Facebook has announced that it’s testing a QVC-style shopping feature that will allow merchants to show off a product on video. As TechCrunch explains
, “customers can screenshot something they want to buy and use Messenger to send it to the seller, who can then request payment right through the chat app.”
I suspect these more direct and interactive sales methods will work best for luxury goods, or at least items with a relatively high pricetag or that are one of a kind. But if people like buying this way, a lot of the experience could be automated through chatbots. Still, I don’t expect we’ll be ordering our weekly food shop this way any time soon.
These kinds of shopping experiences are far more common in China than they are in the West, where chat apps are the platform of choice for just about everything, but there’s no reason it can’t work here.
Stories are gradually taking over as the prevalent way of sharing what we’re up to on Facebook, Instagram and elsewhere, and these new shopping experiences fit that paradigm perfectly. I’m excited to see where it leads.