Today's consumer is faced with so many options, it can be overwhelming. Using search to find a specific item returns 100 different sites you've never heard of and probably don't want to send your money to. In reponse to this, we are seeing the rise of curated shopping. There are sites that ask a few questions about you, your style (so far, these are mostly fashion and lifestyle sites) and then offer expert opinions and items selected just for you. Let's take a look at a few of these sites to see how they work and the experience they offer their users.
One site I recently came across is OpenSky. OpenSky bills itself as providing exclusive deals on special items hand-picked by experts in style, food, health, and design. When you sign up, you choose up to ten curators you want to hear from each week. They email you with a product pick, offered at a discount. When I joined about 6 months ago, they didn't have a large roster of curators, but they have since significantly expanded, and curators include both well known and niche experts. Some of them overlap the four categories.
OpenSky's email communications come from either the curator, or from OpenSky. Each week's deal email is from the curator, and includes OpenSky in the subject line. OpenSky also sends updates about current sales and new curators. But I find their messaging has been somewhat inconsistent. For example, I got the same message twice, once from a curator and once from OpenSky. Occasionally I get an email from a curator that doesn't include OpenSky in the subject line, and I frequently get several emails on the same day from all five curators I follow, which is kind of overwhelming. Sometimes the emails are about a product and sometimes they are tips on how to wear an item, etc. but there doesn't seem to be a consistent cadence. Personally, one thing I find annoying is that you have to click through to see how much the item is. It's great to offer it at 40% off, but don't make me work to find out the price.
Here's an example of a product email.
And here's an update with the sales from several curators.
Overall, I think it's an interesting idea, but I think 10 curators is probably too many, and you need to curate the curators in this instance to get the best results.
One other company that's been getting some buzz lately is JewelMint. JewelMint is a partnership between Kate Bosworth, an actress, and Cher Coulter, a stylist. The way this service works is you answer a few questions to help them figure out what your style is, and then each month they present you with a selection of jewelry for purchase. Each piece is $29.99 and shipping is free.
Their emails are a mix of product-focused and editorial-style. They send updates when the new showroom is ready, info on trends and how to wear the accessories, and special offers or coupons.
Here's their most recent trend piece.
And here's a really great fan favorites email that includes social media content, featuring the real people who posted about the jewelry and how they wear it. I think this approach really helps make a connection between the product and the consumer and helps them see how they might include it in their wardrobe.
So one of obvious differences between these two sites is the amount of content they provide to their email subscribers. OpenSky takes the minimalist approach, requiring a click through to their site, while JewelMint gives a lot more information within the email itself.
Have you signed up for any of these curated shopping sites? I would love to hear your experiences and impressions of their marketing.
Liz Lynch, senior marketing communication specialist, e-Dialog
PS. If you'd like to set up an OpenSky account, use this link and they'll give you a $10 credit.