Using Curated Commerce to Grow your Brand
22Oct12

With thousands of ecommerce websites filling every niche interest under the sun, it’s difficult for website owners to stand out from the crowd. It’s also difficult for consumers to sift through all of the online clutter to find the products that best match their personal style and interests.

A solution to both of these problems has arisen organically over the past couple of years in the form of curated commerce. Sites like Pinterest use a combination of social networking and editorial layouts to create crowd-sourced collections of lifestyle, fashion, and other niche market products.

Pinterest has already become an extremely effective marketing tool for ecommerce business owners. According to a survey conducted by the shopping cart software giant Shopify, consumers arriving at Shopify stores via Pinterest were 10% more likely to make a purchase than those who arrived via other social networking sites. Referral traffic from Pinterest matched traffic from Twitter, and Pinterest has quickly become the third most popular social networking site on the web today. This makes it a potentially valuable tool for online retailers, who can set up their own profiles and interact with consumers to boost the chances of products appearing in Pinterest-curated collections.

Other top user-curated sites include Polyvore and Svpply, which allow users to mix and match their favourite products into stylish collections. There’s nothing trendy consumers enjoy more than trying their hand at becoming stylists, which is partially why these fashion sites have boomed in popularity. In addition to user-curated sites, the world of curated commerce also includes professionally-curated collections. JewelMint is a website run by Cher Coulter, a professional stylist, and Kate Bosworth, an actress noted for her sense of fashion. They send out personalized collections of jewellery according to subscriber preferences, laid out in a slick magazine-style format.

Online retailers are sitting on a potential goldmine if they are able to crack these curated collections, which reach a wide audience of internet-savvy consumers. One potential problem for established brand names is that these collections tend to be based on unique, quirky, or new products that aren’t advertised elsewhere. Consumers turn to sites like Polyvore and Pinterest to discover something new, not to see bland advertisements from big-box retailers. To break through this barrier and harness the power of curated commerce to promote a website, it’s necessary to stay on top of trends by getting involved with these curated websites.

Most ecommerce website owners already have a Facebook and Twitter account. Joining Pinterest, Polyvore, and other sites of this nature can help retailers reach out to consumers in a different way, by sharing interests and highlighting products that have influenced the brand’s aesthetic. It’s key to walk the fine line between sharing and spamming when curating your own collections; or the collection will ring false with viewers.

Another potential benefit of curated collections is that they allow business owners to see how their customers view and use their products. Searching for your brand on a curated website can allow you to see how your customers style your items in their own collections, and which other brands or products they pair yours with. This could help you define your marketing efforts more effectively, using the visual appeal and aesthetic that appeals to your real-life consumers.

It takes a little bit of effort and imagination to start using curated commerce effectively. There’s a playful edge to curated websites, and retailers that successfully use a combination of style and originality in their own collections will reap the most benefits.

Posted under marketing

Written by Craig Wilson

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