I recently spent an exhilarating 10 minutes in the passenger seat of a new 997 Porsche Carrera S - WOW! The owner, a successful businessman, had a very interesting concept for a web idea.
The concept surrounds a website visitor's (customers) ability to personalise an item before purchase. This sent me scurrying to research what is happening in this space that is exciting and reflects his own idea.
I came across a fantastic site - www.zazzle.com.au which is likely to be the inspiration for his own vision. The website is an online 'customise-your-own' merchandising facility and the functionality is incredible. One can pick parts of merchandise (eg. all the sides of a shoe), select and change colours and even upload a picture. Cool Huh!
Technically, this is an awesome site containing around 29 billion combinations and permutations of customisation; if you are to believe their statement on the home page.
The Zazzle concept is one of the best online businesses I've seen to radically enhance the User experience in a highly engaging manner - it's fun and it's personal.
Are we now seeing personalisation and customisation the way of the future?
I am a little on the young side, but my colleagues have confirmed this was a key message in the dot-com boom that ended around 2000. For example, back then there was talk of the 'new car' dealership disappearing in favour of selecting your car online and customising it to your liking. You then submit your order and 'wallah', your new car gets delivered - 'just-in-time' delivery, which was another mantra back then.
Well, it's a decade down the track and maybe this is now the reality for 2010 and beyond.
It is not the 'glitz and glamour' driving its success; rather, Zazzle provides a very unique offering to consumers, is very easy to use and appears to have been built on a solid technical platform.
The platform covers many of the basics for a successful Internet business:
o It understands the visitor needs. Zazzle is a niche service and probably captures the hearts and minds of its presumed younger demographic (the 'I want to be different' consumer)
o The website is built to meet their expectations around fashion.
o A very savvy underlying technology platform. With such a massive catalogue containing millions of combination and shopping cart integration, it has to be highly scalable - the Internet world is a big marketplace
o Generate visitor leads through SEO - I have reviewed key terms and they achieve excellent organic rankings in Google. It allows Users unknown to the business stumble across it.
o Solid website flow to help convert leads to buyers; engage and always prompt the user to continue.
A set of baseline objectives and solid strategy are the first ingredients needed for your own success story.
Now, and as I step inside my own 'customised' Porsche (I wish) and drive off into the sunset, I can only ask the question............Is personalisation and customisation the way of the future?