Everything old is new again
Samantha Klein 270006UXPV firstname.lastname@example.org | | Tags:  retail gene_alvarez. smarter_commerce social-business scale commerce gartner scgs social smarter-commerce scalability socbiz
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As I listened to Gene Alvarez, a Gartner Analyst, discuss the “top 10 trends shaping tomorrow’s sales” during the Smarter Commerce Global Summit this week, I couldn’t help but think how the latest marketing trends had evolved from past practices.
“Commerce is Social”
“Tupperware Parties,” which began in the 1940s, were essentially the first retail social networks. Tupperware parties proved to be a very effective sales strategy where a party was run by a Tupperware consultant at the home of a host, who had invited friends and neighbors over to interact, view the product line, hear the sales pitch and, hopefully, order the products. Tupperware hosts were rewarded with free products based on the level of sales made at their party. These parties employed word-of-mouth marketing and gamification before there were even terms for it.
Today, social shopping is one of the most popular activities for people – whether it be social shopping at brick and mortar stores with their own coffee shops, websites or apps, such as Pinterest and Wanelo. “Tupperware parties” are no longer limited to one company or product line, attendees are no longer limited to friends, neighbors and family members and the events don’t even need to physically take place! The digital world has enabled all of us to attend “shopping parties” anytime we want to with our real friends, our digital friends or with just about anyone, anywhere, even if it’s 3 am and you’re lying in bed in your pajamas.
“Everyone Can Sell and Deliver”
In the 1920s and 1930s, Girl Scouts in different parts of the country baked sugar cookies with their mothers, packaged them in wax paper bags sealed with a sticker and sold the cookies door-to-door for 25 cents to 35 cents per dozen. For over 100 years, Girl Scouts and their families have continued selling cookies to their local communities to finance their troop activities.
Today, the Girl Scouts of America has begun testing both online and mobile sales sites and anyone can now use their website or their free mobile “Cookie Finder” app to search for Girl Scouts selling cookies in their neighborhood, get details on their favorite Girl Scout Cookies and use social media to communicate with and suggest that their friends purchase Girl Scout Cookies as well. Beyond Girl Scout Cookies, sites such as Ebay, CafePress, Amazon and Etsy have created online global marketplaces where anyone can buy and sell practically anything. The entire world can now be a digital store, garage sale or bake sale.
“Commerce can be Predictive and Subscribed”
Harry Scherman started “The Book of the Month Club,” a U.S. mail-order book sales club that offered a new book each month to subscribers, in 1926 with 4,000 initial subscribers. In less than twenty years, the Club had more than 550,000 subscribers and being a "Book of the Month Club" selection was used to promote books to the general public. Since then, there has been everything from “Wine of the Month Club,” to “Music of the Month Club” to “Pickle of the Month Club.”
Today, subscription box services such as Birchbox, Barkbox and Dollar Shave Club, have been identified as some of the best innovations in retail. In essence, all of these new subscription box services are identical to the original 1926 Book Of the Month Club. What makes these companies so innovative is that they are ecommerce based and are able to use the power of social networks to nurture a sense of community, all while bolstering product engagement, product discovery and drawing in new consumers and subscribers monthly.
It wasn’t until the end of Alvarez’s presentation that I realized that what differentiates retail’s yesterday from retail’s tomorrow is the power of SCALABILITY. Ecommerce, social networks and mobile commerce have transformed the retail industry by allowing retailers to transition existing tried and true effective and successful marketing concepts to entirely new levels via current technology.