Friday, October 23, 2009

The Uniform Project: Convergence of Philanthropy, Fashion, Sustainability, and Commerce

The Uniform Project was birthed by two women, Sheena Matheiken, and Eliza Starbuck, inspired to use a blog and social networks to raise funds for a worthy cause. The mantra: one black dress-365 days, complimented with Sheena's creative styling imagination appeals to women around the world, who ask themselves the question; "What Shall I Wear Today? Respectfully, millions more have little to wear but one piece of clothing, constrained by education, health, and cultural hardships.

As many of us are moving away from the "brand is me" to the "brand is we" I predict that the attributes which motivate us to shop and transact has reached an inflection or "tipping point". Competition for resources will give way to cooperative commerce systems. Communities will vote together and buy core product categories in bulk. Bloggers will move from complainers to composers, partnering with new platforms like the Uniform Project to converge philanthropy, fashion, sustainability, and commerce. The popularity of the Uniform Project, through its daily serial of blog posts, is sending digital signals, a weather report on whats to come. The rapid escalation of tags,links,keywords and the signals emitted from hyper-layered social connectivity will likely to force the extinction of the current business and distribution hierarchy as we know it! Just read the Twitter trend feeds on your favorite topic or brand and feel the power of the stream. Its early, but the trend is undeniable.

In fact, not too long ago, store-based retailing was forced to adopt and embrace the Internet. The movement to online e-commerce was powered by technology. Watch now, as the movement to networked commerce, is further empowered by the connectivity provided by it. The Uniform Project and other initiatives like it exemplify the power of "trust agents" as Chris Brogan and Julien Smith have aptly named their new book. These "trust agents" are changing the business of retailing. They will motivate buyers to enjoy consuming, fueled in part by an awareness that every transaction can have a far greater value and influence than ever before. Its no longer just about "me", its also about "we". That's a large audience of consumers, a few hatching,
and a large number incubating, who will buy most of what they need through "trust agents" and love doing it. Social network connectivity is spawning an evolutionary
uptick in how we conduct commerce. Lets help each think less like marketers, and
more like farmers and stewards.

I want to encourage you to take a few minutes and watch the movie on the birth, and mission for the Uniform Project and thank you for sharing.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

5 Attributes for Digital Engagement

Reading Minds
Marketers increasingly use web analytics and measurement tools for predictive inference of what you and I may be "seeking" in order to serve relevant messages - guided by a complex web of search terms.
24-7 Connectivity
As we become effectively "plugged in" marketers will advance more messages more frequently and consumers will seek applications to protect and prevent unwanted interference more efficiently. Passwords give way to advances in authenticity, and protection of identity.
Property Exchanges
Watch as a greater number of individuals join in the online exchange of goods and services. Micro-marketplaces develop as the connectivity deepens and segmentation becomes more focused.
Social Exchanges
Social networks stimulate individuals to express themselves, create identities, share values, and build social currency credits. A marketplace of communities develop around a new set of "trust" rules. Marketers become sponsors if invited as participants.
Cultural Exchanges
Artists, Designers, and Performers channel creativity, and produce content in smaller bites, shorter works, responding to networked "communities" and the dilution and ultimate demise of traditional distribution channels, Watch a global renaissance in consumption of art and culture. The margin between being famous and the rest of us becomes less so.
For More on the Emerging Trust Economy -


Wednesday, October 7, 2009


The concept of “free shipping” has proven to be a highly successful and compelling online offer for shoppers on the Internet. As a promotional tool, the cost to the seller is significantly better than what is required in the way of an equivalent discount to drive the same result.

One of the reasons consumers like free shipping offers, is that it makes an online transaction comparable with a local purchase at a neighborhood store. The buyer finds comfort in the offer, and this does not diminish the value of the product itself.
This is particularly valuable now for the smaller business, now that companies such as Amazon have made it a standard.

There is substantial evidence that packing and shipping fees are a primary cause of e-cart abandonment. Most of us have direct experience shopping online, where we are about to give our credit card, to complete their transaction, and then suddenly, the price of the total purchase skyrockets. Many shoppers exit quickly, leaving frustrated, and rarely, if ever return. Even in cases, where the fees are not excessive, we have been conditioned to expect higher online shipping fees, and this adds to the appeal of “free shipping”.

I encourage sellers to take advantage of this reality. Imagine an online shopping environment where the offer of “free shipping” is standardized. Now, analyze the cost structure of your products. When you arrive at your final retail selling price, add, what I call, a shipping fee offset. On a higher ticket item, add a smaller percentage, and on lower priced items, add a slightly higher percentage. The added percentage may not fully absorb shipping fees, but it will improve the margin of profit on your items, and give you “peace of mind”. Take these steps today. Once executed, your pricing structure will empower you to take advantage of “Free Shipping” without compromise to your brand, your items, and your costs.


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