Mass customization legend Frank Piller recently posted about custom jeans up-and-comer Getwear. “The website seems to be very carefully designed and somehow a “best of breed” of best practices for a good co-design toolkit.”
GetWear believes that their site is new and different. “None of them is social,” explains Yaakov Karda of Getwear. “It was you (the customer) and the company. Basically, it is an analogue of web based “atelier”. There’s not much fun in buying atelier made clothing for young people; the concept looks and sounds outdated. Getwear is all about social commerce. From my point of view, mass customization has perfect potential if coupled with community but will not succeed on the large scale if it is not. All other “custom jeans” businesses mostly target people with special requirements (and though an established need for a custom product). It’s a very limited market (and with harsh competition).”
Is Getwear an example of social commerce? Yaakov is referring to “crowd-sourced,”, not “social.” Of course co-creation (ie open innovation) and social are not the same thing, but they are often confused. Does social just mean community-enabled or does it imply tapping the trusted opinions of friends or connections? Certainly, giving quasi-designers the ability to sell their creations in your marketplace is democratic and taps into the power of network effects, but it does not merit the title ‘social commerce.’
Social as a collaboration enabler
Nicholas Marx of Besposkable says this about their open portal approach: “Through social, we’re enabling collaboration: both sides – buyer & seller – can make edits to our product configurators. We’re finding that many people want a relationship with the maker of their things. They want to be able to ask them for their advice, etc. Only the personal attention of single craftsmen or a small team can provide the attention to detail needed for true customization. We’re finding that people want to buy from other people, not really from factories. I think many of the custom DIY outfits out there are missing that.”
Although the Bespokeable model leapfrogs conventional buyer / seller marketplaces like eBay by enabling creative collaboration, this may not merit the title “social commerce” as it doesn’t tap into power of trusted referrals.
Social commerce as a lead generator
Pinterest is probably the best example of social commerce in that it taps the tastes of your Facebook friends. Pinterest enables an aspirational, “pre-shopping” experience rather than a conventional yellow-pages marketplace. Like Facebook, Pinterest feels more at home as a marketing tool than a sales tool.