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Is Crowdsourcing a Viable Option for Retailers?


Crowdsourcing has been a very hot concept for the last few years. If you’re not familiar with it, think about what you see online in social networks every day… a friend asks for restaurant recommendations in a city he’s traveling to; a manager asks if you know anyone suitable for a new position opening up at her firm.

These kinds of requests are also known as “crowdsourcing.” They’re not limited to your friends or social networks. This is part of the larger trend of seeking resources from the public, and businesses are harnessing this trend to boost business, sales and gain innovative ideas.

Stores can use crowdsourcing to expand their talent pool. C.J. Kettler of Genius Crowds notes, “The strategy greatly reduces costs to retailers because they’re only paying for the idea, not the process. ... It provides a way to build sustainable relationships with consumers and thereby develop a deeper connection and better brand loyalty.”

Australia-based Shoes of Prey is meeting a large and growing demand by giving women the opportunity to design their own shoes. According to founder Jodie Fox, their female customers have spent more than 15 million minutes designing shoes on their site since the company’s launch in October 2009.

Macy’s has embarked on a new campaign and is asking its customers to send in their patriotic videos for use in 30-second “What makes America great” commercials to air this summer. Macy’s claims it’s creating the first national crowdsourcing effort “created in celebration of America by Americans” and is part of its current American Icons campaign.

In an effort to build its brand back up, Coach is including photos on its website of women wearing its shoes from the world over. This is very similar to what you’d find in a professional “lookbook.”

Lancome has persuaded women to post pictures of themselves without makeup, for a project coded #bareselfie. The campaign urged women to “be proud of the skin you’re in,” but it also tied in very neatly with one of Lancome’s newest products, Dreamtone, a serum that promises to correct blemishes and uneven skin tones without using makeup.

These strategies go way beyond branding. With photos posted on Facebook and Instagram, retailers and brands can collect, curate and display social content. Olapic is a company that has created a visual commerce platform, which facilitates this for businesses. Olapic’s co-founder, Luis Sanz, claims the photo tie-ins from Facebook and Instagram increase the odds of a purchase by 5 to 12 percent on average.

New York University marketing professor Scott Galloway is convinced this is the right track for brands and retailers. Since smartphone cameras have become more sophisticated, Galloway sees the consumer searching for more authenticity, which is lacking in traditional advertising. “If a consumer is pictured with a Coach bag, which looks great on her and complements what she’s wearing, it carries more credibility than if Annie Leibowitz makes it look great,” says Galloway.

Retailers can also use crowdsourcing to integrate loyalty programs into their operations. MoPals is a Social Media Loyalty platform that provides a way to monetize the social influence of its members and partners. By leveraging the influence of social media, MoPals can empower members and enlist brand engagement. Members can refer local businesses and stores so that they can earn digital currency redeemable at participating retailers. Additionally, they can participate in surveys or mention partnering brands or businesses through social networks in exchange for rewards. Stores who use this platform can collect feedback and advice from customers via social media. Many industry experts think this is how crowdsourcing and loyalty programs can combine forces to create a synergy in building a store’s success and following.

TAGS: retail, retail trends, retailers,
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