Personalization & Customer Centricity.... let's break down the business jargon and really call this, "Giving your customers what they ask for."
When I first started this out, I wasn't 100% sure if people would pay for this product or service labeled as "custom." Cosmetics companies produce thousands of products with a variety of colors every season. Why would anyone pay for a new brand and make their own?
Well, it looks like the market is signaling a need for this... but a challenge that I will ultimately have to deal with is how I would scale this. From my experience at Bazaarvoice, a startup I worked for right out of college, one of the main challenges of my job was to scale the analytics program across all 500+ clients. Now I need to see if technology will allow me to do the same with cosmetics.
Here are some of the questions that I ponder at night....
1. Why does Personalization & Customization work?
A huge part of why these two ideas do well in the marketplace is due to high touch customer service. Cosmetics in itself is about vanity and 'treat yourself' moments. When you think about offering something custom and cater it directly to your customer, you tap into the very core of their desire to get the perfect color that validates the idea they have about how they want/should look.
I think this idea can be applied to other industries as well, but in this context, I'll just discuss cosmetics.
2. Can human to human interactions be replaced by robots?
Have you ever read Marshall McLuhan's The Medium is The Massage? Very cool book with a thought provoking layout.
The main message is how the medium itself is part of the message. So my question is rephrased to ask:
Can my phone/iPad/laptop send the same kind of feelings and evoke the same emotions as meeting with a makeup consultant to create my own color?
Can I create something online that connects with my customers similar to what they get from meeting me in person? I say similar because I don't think it will be 100% the same, but I may be able to evoke different feelings that can be good as well.
For the next few weeks, I'll be emailing my customer base to get them ready for the launch. Of course I would ask for a lot of forgiveness because it is the FIRST attempt.
It's like a science project!
Meet Garrett Eastham of Compare Metrics:
I want to share my friend and old colleague's company, Compare Metrics. Garrett Eastham started this company a little over a year ago based in Austin, Texas. They have fancy computer science guys who write computer programs to learn about people online and help online retailers cater their product assortments to cater to each person... personalization. Maybe their robots can help make online shopping just a little more special for each person :)