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Archive for the ‘Online’ Category

Tesco + Facebook = The end of high street shopping?

In Marketing, Online on March 1, 2012 at 9:07 pm

According to the wordcloud on my blog, two of the things I like talking about the most are Tesco and Facebook, so there’s no surprise that this article caught my attention:

Tesco launches Facebook-based virtual fitting room

http://econsultancy.com/uk/blog/9164-tesco-launches-facebook-based-virtual-fitting-room?utm_medium=feeds

(courtesy https://twitter.com/#!/engagingbrand)

In one of my previous posts, I posited the idea that as soon as large retailers, like Tesco, start to properly adapt to and exploit social media channels like Facebook, all forms of physical shopping – malls and out of town, too, not just the High Street – would be in real trouble.

(Read the previous post here: FB hoax – the online mall and why Facebook will never charge you)

Here’s the final paragraph from that post:

“People still like to meet people, and clothes shopping particularly requires physical interaction, and is a very social experience, but FB is so near to being able to offer a similar experience that the shopping malls – especially the smaller regional ones – should really start to worry.  Just as malls killed off the High Street, maybe online will kill off the mall?”

Well, today’s announcement seems to even begin to tackle this basic need for ‘physical interaction’ by taking it all online.  I think it’s interesting that Tesco in particular have developed this ‘online fitting room’ given that I’m not sure they even have physical fitting rooms in their stores. Theirs is not high fashion – it’s based on “it’s cheap, so even if it doesn’t fit me properly, it’s no real loss”, so really Tesco are looking to radically increase the levels of social interaction involved in buying their clothes. Do you know anyone who’s ever been on a genuine clothes shopping trip, with friends, to a supermarket?

This is why this announcement is a double threat to physical shopping. Not only are they looking to move clothes shopping online, by launching on Facebook and including social sharing, they are looking to directly attack the ‘social shopping’ experiences that traditional fashion outlets like River Island, H&M & Topshop (forgive me if I’m out of touch with female fashion brands – I’m a 32 year old man) can offer. Forget that Tesco currently sell manky clothes – this can easily change, and the power of market research information they will get from social sharing and commenting will help them do this rapidly (note how Primark managed to gain press attention by offering a few ‘designer’ items in amongst their other pap).

The High Street is a 70s concept that was destroyed by the Mall in the 90s. Now the combination of a severe and long-lasting recession, and the maturation of online retail across a wide range of sectors and age groups, will I believe, start to kill off the Mall by the time the decade’s out.

Physical spaces have to think of something else to do. Something that is unique, that there is a high demand for in the UK, but an undersupply. Something which is highly social, but definitely requires the physical body to experience.

I’ve got 2 words for you.

Water.

Park.

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Plurchase – short follow up to last week’s post on Facebook as an online mall.

In Marketing, Online, Uncategorized on October 2, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Following up from last week’s blog on how Facebook will always be free, and it’s likely next direction towards being an online version of a shopping mall, I recently found reference to a service called ‘Plurchase’ which seems to already be doing this.

It’s essentially a sidebar for Amazon and similar online shopping sites, where you can invite friends to ‘shop’ with you, and all can comment via text on the various items you’re currently browsing.

I can see this being useful for people discussing Xmas present lists, or for distant parents and offspring to have some ‘social’ time together, but I think until something like this integrates with video and sound the real ‘social’ aspect will be limited, and with Facebook now tied to Skype, I’d still back FB to get there first.

As far as I can see, this is currently US only, so if anyone has any experience of Plurchase, I’d be interested to find out what it’s like.

More on Plurchase.

FB hoax – the online mall and why Facebook will never charge you

In Marketing, Online on September 25, 2011 at 1:10 pm

A Facebook friend posted a status update saying due to recent changes FB were going to start charging (more here).

I didn’t need to google it to know it was a hoax because charging for access goes fundamentally against Facebook’s money-making proposition both now and in the future. They’ve just gone past 800m active users on the back of being free, and whilst this has its own value in terms of advertising and online games, that’s just the start of it.

Facebook’s ambition is to become the first World Mall – an online shopping and leisure destination for everyone.

Think of the USPs of shopping malls:

  • All the shops you need in one place
  • Leisure destinations like Cinema and Restaurants to make it a social experience to be enjoyed in groups
  • Easy access (free car parking, bus & raill links) & comfortable surroundings (air con, benches, plants etc…)
Of those 3, it is the third which is most powerful, as this is what differentiates a mall significantly from the High Street.  This is what makes many malls a weekly destination for families and friends – it’s easy and free. You don’t even necessarily go to buy some stuff, but while you’re there…
Now consider what would happen to those decisions if your local mall charged you £3 each to get in, or £7 per car to park.  This might still be cheaper than a trip to town, but the thought of paying to access would mean you would only go when you had the express intent of doing a decent sized shop, or spending a long time there.  Footfall would decline, and so would income in the shops, and it probably wouldn’t offset the amount being taken in in charges.
This is exactly how Facebook operates. By being free, and offering some basic functionality of use to subscribers, FB ensures people come back again and again and again, and in doing so, their opportunity to to sell to you increases.
Currently FB makes its money from the targeted pay-per-click ads down the right side of your profile, and from monetised online games such as gambling or those games where you buy a cow for your farm or something.  However, FB are relatively few stages away from being a one-stop shopping and leisure destination – an online mall.
In fact, I reckon they are only 3 or so tie-ins away from achieving this. Consider the following Facebook additions:

Paypal tie in (for ease of online payment – not sure their own currency ever took off other than for game obsessives)
Spotify & Flixster tie in – rights issues are the big stumbling block, but having HD movie streaming from Flixster with live FB comment box (or Skype connection) would allow people to essentially go to the cinema together on Facebook. Spotify is struggling to cover its costs with advertising alone, but if it was FB’s primary way to listen to & buy music, it would soon start making money.
Tesco Online via FB – in the UK, if FB got Tesco Direct plugged in to FB, that alone would drive all other retail brands onto FB (just looked and Tesco only have 300k followers on FB – this is appallingly bad considering their customer base).

People still like to meet people, and clothes shopping particularly requires physical interaction, and is a very social experience, but FB is so near to being able to offer a similar experience that the shopping malls – especially the smaller regional ones – should really start to worry.  Just as malls killed off the High Street, maybe online will kill off the mall?