October 31, 2010
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Article source: http://feeds.mashable.com/~r/Mashable/~3/lby1v2PsDfg/
October 31, 2010
While the online retail concept has been around for almost two decades, the desperation of the recession left luxury brands saddled with unsold merchandise. Thus, private sale sites offing goods at cut-rate prices began popping up.
Its not a new concept think of members-only big box stores like Sams Club and Costco that have been around for decades. A large membership base, exceptional buying power, low overhead costs and buying in bulk have enabled these companies to offer their members deeply discounted prices.
Now, that same concept has been adopted online members join or are invited to websites that offer private sales with great prices on everything from designer clothes, to furniture, to kitchen supplies, restaurant deals, and flight, hotel and vacation packages. Most memberships are free, but some sites, like Ideeli, offer paid VIP membership that affords members early access to sales. In the world of private sales, its first come, first serve, so having a head start over most people can really help. But how do these sites work? And how do they turn a profit selling a $500 dress for $150?
Block, Sell and Ship
Many sites, like Gilt, one of the most popular and successful private sale sites, operate on the Block, Sell and Ship model. In this model, brands send samples of their clothes to Gilt, where merchandise buyers hand pick the items they want to sell on the site. The buyers then place their orders for the amount of merchandise theyd like the brands to set aside for the sale, based on available stock.
After members pay for their goods and the sale ends, Gilt then places the confirmed purchase order with the brand for what it has sold online. Merchandise is then shipped to Gilt, where everything is packaged in Gilt-branded boxes and shipped out to customers.
This is a fairly safe model with few risks to Gilt. The most Gilt really has to worry about is the time it takes for the brand to send its purchase order, and then send it out to customers. Another risk in this model has to do with inventory. If the count isnt accurate, you could have a number of customers receiving refunds and apologies that their order could not be filled. The risk then is that the customer becomes discouraged and will look to other sites. But it doesnt seem like Gilt is having that problem, as its reportedly on track to rake in about $500 million in revenue this year, and thats up from $170 million the year before.
Buy and Distribute Direct
Another common way that other sites operate is to purchase and fulfill orders directly. With this model, the sites take more of a risk but have the potential to offer customers the best discounts. If a company chooses this business model, it contacts brands to see how much inventory is available, and the brands will send its inventory reports and samples. Here is where things differ the more inventory the site buys, the better wholesale price, and the better price it can offer to members. The risk here is that if a site orders 100% of a brands inventory and it goes unsold, then thats money lost.
Why Are the Items So Cheap?
In some cases, the items sold on these sites are samples created before the item went into mass production. Samples are often created by luxury brands and high-end designers to test design variations or to get a feel for how the market responds to their creations. These are the pieces you see on runways and an in magazines. In some cases, a design may never make it to production due to lack of interest from merchandising buyers. Either way, these sample items need to go somewhere after designers have finalized their line for the season.
Other times, the designer may have made too many pieces of a particular item this typically occurs during mass production. In the past, if a designer was unable to sell the pieces at retail prices, the last call was to load them off to warehouse sales and for dirt cheap. Now, sample sale sites are another option.
Whether the items are samples or overstock, the result is inexpensively priced, quality goods. Private sale sites buy these goods for cheap and then mark them up for a profit. Because the items were so deeply discounted by the designers, even a large markup by the sample site will still be a remarkable discount for the average sample site shopper.
How These Sites Appeal to Consumers
First and foremost, online sample sale sites afford customers the opportunity to buy designer items for cheap.
Another reason these sites are so popular is that they work under the guise that they are exclusive and members-only. While some still require an invite from an existing member, more frequently its possible to just sign up on your own. Of course, its to both the websites and the brands benefit to have as many customers as possible, but the idea of being a VIP customer is very appealing to many and will draw users to sign up or request invites.
These sites also fare well because they have great control over the product selection and can tailor it specifically to meet their target audience through the information they collect when members sign up, resulting in happy customers.
Lastly, these sites are working wonders by capitalizing on a sense of urgency and relying on the impulse of shoppers who want to make sure they get an item in their size or color before anyone else, while not missing out on a great deal. Private sale sites use the ticking pressure of the clock to encourage this impulse shopping, with no exit strategy for buyers remorse as some items are often non-refundable and shipping for returns is often paid for by the customer.
How Can Your Business Benefit?
Private online sales are a relatively new way to successfully sell items, and small businesses should take notice. While most of the websites promote big, brand name, designer and luxury products, as this model continues to grow in popularity, there will be more opportunities for smaller businesses to offer their products as well. What started with designer clothes has quickly branched out to travel, restaurants, home decor and even kitchen wares meaning there is plenty of room for all sorts of products and services to be sold this way.
If your company produces samples or ever experiences overstock, sample sale sites could be a great way to get rid of those items. Instead of compromising your brands reputation or image by selling leftover products to bargain stores like T.J.Maxx, Filenes Basement and Marshalls, your company could consider selling extra merchandise to these online private sample sales that still have that luxury touch.
Has your company sold to private sale sites? If so, how would you compare the experience with the traditional model of selling leftover samples and overstock to large bargain retailers?
More Business Resources from Mashable:
– HOW TO: Nail Your Elevator Pitch
– How 7 Startups Are Building Their Online Communities
– Top 5 Enterprises Using Social Media
– 4 Digital Alternatives to the Traditional Resume
– The Future of Event Planning and Social Media
Article source: http://feeds.mashable.com/~r/Mashable/~3/XEIxjS8qlZ4/
October 31, 2010
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Article source: http://feeds.mashable.com/~r/Mashable/~3/4iXmmsUmRfE/
October 31, 2010
Article source: http://feeds.mashable.com/~r/Mashable/~3/ouembQC7R3U/
October 30, 2010
If youre looking for a job, ask yourself if youve tapped every possible resource. Have you scoured Craigslist and made Monster your homepage? Have you set Google Alerts for every possible word combination that could land you a job? Have you checked Facebook? And Im not talking about Facebooks rather useless Marketplace.
While Facebook is better known for helping people lose their jobs, its largely an untapped resource when it comes to job hunting. With 500 million users, it has the potential to be one of the largest. But finding a job through Facebook isnt about pestering your friends and junking up their news feeds with status updates like Unemployed and Looking For Work Help A Dude Out. Its about making the most of your network in a positive way, not by being a nuisance.
By joining groups, keeping track of your friends updates and just keeping in touch with your network, you can turn Facebook into a site that does so much more for you than just keep tabs on your exes. Here are five ways to turn Facebook into another resource that can help you land a job. If youve scored a job through Facebook, we want to hear your story, so leave us some tips in the comments below.
1. Read Your News Feed
Amanda Flahive is known as the Diva of the Details at Sevans Strategy, a Chicago-based public relations and new media consultancy. She wears many hats in her job working with social media maven Sarah Evans. But Flahive landed the gig just from reading her Facebook feed.
Both Flahive and Evans attended the same college but were in different programs while they knew of each other, they didnt know each other well. About a year and a half ago, they were brought back together by a mutual friends wedding. Evans threw an engagement party, and the two reconnected. At that time Sevans wasnt in existence, says Flahive. [Sarah] was still at her old position as the director of communications at a community college. We talked about what we were both doing, but the conversation wasnt too serious. Sevans might have been something in the back of her brain at the time, but it wasnt something we discussed that night.
Since they were both going to be in the same wedding, they decided to keep in touch on Facebook, the way many old acquaintances re-connect.
Im a person who pretty regularly reads my Facebook news feed. If its not something regarding Farmville or Mafia Wars, then I most likely read it, she says. So I was reading through updates on a random day, and had been in one sales and marketing position, and moved to another, and I was OK, but wasnt loving it.
Flahive was keeping an eye out looking on Monster, looking on Career Builder, but wasnt really hitting anything. Those sites are quite often so flooded with people that are looking for jobs, that it was my experience that you dont get very far on those sites. I would send a resume in and either not have it go anywhere or in a direction that wasnt right for me, she says.
So on a random day, Flahive saw that Evans had posted that she was looking for a three-quarter time assistant. From the exact Facebook post: Live in Chicago and love details? Looking for someone to work about 30 hours a week, checking e-mail, booking travel etc. E-mail Jen (her then assistant) for more details.
Flahive didnt respond right away, but figured she had nothing to lose since she knew Evans on both a personal and professional level. Evans called her for an interview, and they had a good laugh about it. I said, I cant believe we are having this phone call, but if it werent for Facebook, we wouldnt be having it.
In fact, Evans didnt post the job anywhere else other than Facebook and TwitterTwitter (also the method that Sevans uses to hire its interns). The two had a conversation about the position and Evans ultimately offered Flahive the job through a direct message on Facebook.
Its not what I expected to get out of Facebook, says Flahive who says its typically used to catch up with friends and look at baby photos. I never thought Id get a job out of it. But now that I have, it makes all the sense in the world. And whats more, my job got a whole lot bigger after I accepted via Facebook. Now its full time, Im doing development and marketing; it led to a much bigger job.
2. Get Active in a Group
Bianco was in the middle of job search, looking to switch gears. At the time, hed been doing mostly Java enterprise development and wanted to get into Ruby on Rails instead. I started doing rather vigorous networking, and other job searching stuff. I used to answer posts on CraigslistCraigslist, go to professional networking events for social media and Ruby on Rails. On a whim, he says, he found a Facebook group for the Toronto Ruby on Rails community and left a message in the discussion board saying that he had something to offer, if anyone was looking for someone to do some Ruby on Rails development.
Lo and behold, he got a message back from the systems manager at CSIC, who asked for his resume, which in turn lead to an interview, and Bianco landed the job. So it was really, very much a fluke, but a fortunate one, he says. She ended up telling me later that one of the key reasons she hired me was that she saw I was active in the community, and that I was engaging with others on the InternetInternet.
But Bianco casts it off as a fluke, and he admits it cost him nothing to do. I wouldnt use it as a primary tool for job searching, but at the time I was willing to use any resource I could.
3. Like or Friend Companies You Want to Work For
Sandra Aaron is a Toronto-based event planner who was looking to expand her knowledge of the destination wedding scene, but she found it a difficult prospect. Its really hard to properly plan destination weddings without full knowledge of the travel industry, she writes via e-mail. So I decided I wanted to find a side job with a travel agency.
Aaron spoke with many companies in her search to break into the industry, but the one company she really wanted to align herself with was difficult to get into, as their average new hire had 20 years of experience in the travel industry something Aaron didnt have.
Aaron says she spent a few months trying to find her way in, asking everyone she knew if they knew anyone with the company. Then one day, she saw a status update from the companys Facebook Page that they were seeking experienced travel advisers. With nothing to lose I commented, asking if they ever hired destination wedding planners. A couple of weeks later their marketing guy sent me a note on Facebook, saying he would be happy to pass on my resume to the right person. Aarons resume ended up in the hands of the general manager who was so impressed with it, that within a few weeks, Aaron scored an interview.
Today, shes an independent contractor for the company. She works from their offices, and says its a great situation. I have access to their resources, and their staff has access to my knowledge and resources within the wedding industry. I would have never gotten the meeting if it werent for Facebook.
4. Participate in a Contest
Andrew Miller scored his internship at Fast Horse, a Minneapolis marketing firm through a contest on FacebookFacebook. The company announced that its newest intern would be the candidate who could gain the most Likes in a week. Miller was tipped off to the contest by a college professor and quickly went to work on his campaign.
I tried to tap into every single social network I had ever been a part of, he said. And just send out messages that said, hey if you have a few minutes can you help me win this dream internship? All it takes is liking my Page.
Miller says he didnt even start out with the most Facebook friends, but he was able to mobilize people by giving them simple directions to vote. That strategy won him 725 Likes and the internship.
Having to market myself in this process has helped me in thinking about how to market actual products. The mobilization that I was able to accomplish is something I do all the time now, contacting blogs and newspapers, trying to get them to run stories, he said.
Miller, who moved 1,700 miles from Portland, has completed his three month internship and it was extended another three months, which he says is a typical track to full-employment.
If there is one thing Ive learned, its that social media can be such a powerful tool for establishing those relationships. There is something so hollow about submitting your standard application, resume and cover letter. With this I was able to be in communication with the decision makers and be sure this was going to be a good fit for me. I would absolutely use social media again to engage with those decision makers.
5. Start a Dialogue
Fast Horse, the company that hired Andrew Miller as an intern, is a big believer in the Facebook hiring process, according to its creative director and founder Jorg Pierach.
When Fast Horse launched its Facebook Page, it didnt want the campaign to just be a megaphone for the work they were doing, but rather they wanted to use it as a place to interact with job candidates, sort of a digital informational interview, says Pierach. The company directs job seekers to its Facebook Page so its employees have a place to share information about the company, their culture and what they do.
So instead of a resume disappearing into a file somewhere, we have a way to keep in touch, and the Fast Horse experience is the way to do that, he said. We started this about a year and half ago and weve hired about four or five people this way. They started a dialogue, and when a position opened up we already had a good idea of what that [person] was about.
Pierach says that the intern search was about more than just finding candidates; it was a way to assess them as well, so the candidates could show off their marketing chops. The company asked for video introductions and interviewed 15 candidates before narrowing it down to three finalists who competed for the most Likes.
In a sense it wasnt about hiring one candidate, but seeing three strong people and their talents. As our needs continue to grow, we know that there are people out there that we liked. Its about talent cultivation and about them showing us what they can do. But ultimately [it's] about keeping in touch with really talented people.
Pierach looks at it as a different kind of interview one that requires people to take the initiative to weigh in with their own thoughts. Its also a method that saves the company a lot of time when looking to fill a spot. We have a pre-qualified group of people we can turn to very quickly, he said, noting that the company saves itself from having to post on job boards and slug through cover letters. They can bring in candidates they know are going to rise to the top, because they have been watching each other on Facebook.
We recently had a new opportunity that was a very, very quick turn around. We needed a designer the next day. We turned to our Facebook Page and within a couple of hours we had six or seven people who raised their hands, all people we knew, to say they were available. We were able to get them in the next day and keep moving.
In the future, you can expect to see more companies looking at the hiring process this way, and Pierach suggests that people coming out of college would do well to be aggressive in identifying the companies they want to work with and start the dialogue.
Social Media Job Listings
Every week we put out a list of social media and web job opportunities. While we post a huge range of job listings, weve selected some of the social media positions from the past two weeks to get you started. Happy hunting!
- Social Media Marketing Manager at M in Washington, DC.
- Director of Social Media Strategy at Likeable in New York, NY.
- Social Media Strategist at Sierra Club in San Francisco, CA
- Social Media Manager at Bloom Avenue in New York, NY.
- Social Media Manager at PETA in Los Angeles, CA.
More Job Search Resources from Mashable:
– 5 Ways to Get a Job Through YouTube
– 10 Tips for Aspiring Digital Marketers
– HOW TO: Land a Career in Digital Public Relations
– 10 Tips For Aspiring Community Managers
– 5 Tips for Aspiring Social Media Marketers
Article source: http://feeds.mashable.com/~r/Mashable/~3/3OQD2hfSMNI/
October 30, 2010
Article source: http://feeds.mashable.com/~r/Mashable/~3/QzOss3zwbtI/
October 30, 2010
This post is part of Mashables Spark of Genius series, which highlights a unique feature of startups. The series is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.
Quick Pitch: Qwiki is a platform that uses proprietary technology to consolidate multiple data sources on search topics into an immersive information experience.
Genius Idea: Information is easy to come by, especially on the web. A simple search for a person, celebrity, monument, restaurant or destination via a traditional search engine will return a bevy of results, albeit results that are mostly lifeless.
Newly launched startup Qwiki aims to reinvent the way people experience information by providing interactive video presentations that are weaved together in near real-time from multiple data sources. Qwiki currently hosts upwards of three million rich and immersive presentations on a variety of people, places and things.
The slick animation in each Qwiki is generated on-the-fly via data pulled from WikipediaWikipedia (for narration) and thousands of media sources. Most elements in Qwikis are interactive. So, video clips can be selected and viewed in their entirety and clicked photos will bring up slideshows. Related Qwikis, maps and timelines in Qwikis are also highly interactive.
Qwiki is merely an alpha stage product, which means what you see now is a fraction of what the service is being built to do. Qwiki is today little more than a cool interactive reference tool, but the startup is actively working on a number of products and a platform strategy that will better showcase what its technology is capable of.
In an interview with MashableMashable, CEO Doug Imbruce explained that Qwikis next two products one for social media users and the other for small businesses are slated for release in the the first quarter of 2011. The first offering will let users create Qwikis based around thier social data in aggregate, while the small business product will allow merchants to aggregate reviews from third-party sites like YelpYelp and turn them into Qwikis.
These ideas are best experienced, and the company has released prototypes just for that purpose. The Qwiki on Asiate Restaurant is pulled together via Yelp data on the restaurant, the presentation on Keith Rabois is entirely comprised from LinkedInLinkedIn info and the entry on Gregory Smith comes courtesy of information hes shared on FacebookFacebook. Trust us, these are must-watch Qwikis.
Qwiki for moble is also a work in progress. The startups iPad application is the most mature of the bunch and is slated for release prior to Thanksgiving.
Even in Qwikis limited test tube stage, you can experience the startups impressive technology first-hand, but Qwikis ultimate goal is to become an, ubiquitous layer that augments the traditional Web, says Imbruce.
And before you write off Qwiki as just a visual talking version of Wikipedia, keep in mind that the startup took home the top prize at the TechCrunch Disrupt demo event earlier this year. Imbruce also tells us that Marissa Mayer, who formerly was the VP of search for GoogleGoogle, played with Qwiki backstage for over an hour and was super impressed.
Qwiki has raised a seed round of $1.5 million, but is currently fielding substantial interest from the investment community, and is actively participating in discussions around its next round, says Imbruce.
Want to try Qwiki out? The first 1,000 Mashable readers wanting insider access to Qwikis alpha service can do so by signing up here.
Qwiki iPhone Alarm Clock Prototype
Heres something fun. Imbruce shared the following video to highlight one of the other innovative projects in the works a Qwiki-powered alarm clock for the iPhone.
Sponsored by Microsoft BizSpark
BizSpark is a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.
Article source: http://feeds.mashable.com/~r/Mashable/~3/UkorX8kYE5M/
October 30, 2010
Article source: http://feeds.mashable.com/~r/Mashable/~3/yVDv5dlOXk4/
October 29, 2010
At 7:45 a.m. on Tuesday morning, the group payment startup WePay sent an icy message to payment giant, PayPal at its annual development conference in San Francisco. PayPal, a WePay competitor, has had negative publicity in the past around the issue of freezing some of its members’ accounts. WePay obviously wanted to let PayPal customers and developers know that they would not experience the account freeze issue if they were using the WePay system.
With a limited budget, competing against a giant in the payment industry, WePay elected to do a marketing stunt to get its message across. The WePay team wheeled a massive block of ice with frozen money and a message to PayPal customers and developers: PayPal Freezes Your Accounts. One minute after dropping off the massive block of ice in front of San Franciscos Moscone Center, WePay employees were confronted by security. An hour and half later, the stunt was on the front page of TechCrunch, one of the most popular technology news sites on the web today.
More Than a Cute Story?
Sure, that sounds like a fun story, and I am sure the folks at WePay had a lot of fun doing it, but did it drive actual business results?
According to the WePay team, yes it did. The folks at WePay shared the following results with us from the days following the stunt:
Conversions on the stunt landing page were 3x higher than a normal day.
300% increase in weekly traffic
225% increase in signups
Those are pretty dramatic results. How did they do it?
Takeaways From a Successful Marketing Stunt
1. Have a Dedicated Landing Page – WePay had a dedicated landing page for its stunt: UnfreezeYourMoney.com. On this page, WePay had two separate calls-to-action for its buyer personas: new users and developers. This landing page converted at a 10% higher rate than the companys homepage.
2. Be Ready to Make a First Impression – The WePay team had prepared for a spike in engagement. They were ready for more emails, calls, and tweets than normal. With lots of new potential users talking about the stunt, the team needed to be ready to respond and make sure it created a good first impression.
3. Have Fun With the Stunt - When you create something interesting, people always want to know how you did it. It is important to understand that the stunt is meant to be fun, and while you are putting it together, you should plan to take pictures to share with your community. For example, the folks at WePay documented the process on their blog.
What do you think of this stunt? The numbers seem to indicate that it was effective.
Save Your Seat: ROI of Real-Time Webinar with David Meerman Scott
Posted by Kipp Bodnar on Fri, Oct 29, 2010 @ 08:20 AM
October 29, 2010
It takes a leap of faith to go from the old-fashioned world of handsets to the seemingly high-powered, deal-making world of bluetooth headsets. But the tiny devices have become a staple for big suits and everyday people alike, spawning a massive market of options.
The tiniest of devices, the Plantronics Savor M1100 Bluetooth Headset, is about as big as a baby carrot and weighs just 9 grams. Full disclosure, I am decidedly in the first category of traditionalists. Headsets just seemed like extra work to answer a call. I should not have liked this headset. But it really is worth a look even if youre a skeptic.
Despite its minute stature, the M1100 packs a ton of features into an intuitive user interface, but its also a breeze to connect and even easier to use. What changed my mind, and why should you look into device? Read on for my breakdown.
The M1100 looks great. There are no gaudy flashing lights or projecting mics; the whole headset is a self-contained sliver of technology. A slim LED near the front of the device discreetly lights up blue or red when your battery is low or right when its powered on. Its weight means that the M1100 will sit comfortably in pretty much anyones ear, though I do recommend using the clear-plastic ear clip thats included.
Plantronics has somehow squeezed four buttons onto the headset, including a sliding on/off switch, cycling volume control, call button and voice recognition button. While it can be easy to mix up the call and voice buttons, or press them when trying to move the headset, the M1100 manages to streamline the calling process so even the simplest of users can quickly get on a call.
One of the biggest selling points is that every feature on the headset can be controlled via voice command. Tap the voice button once and say any of 10 commands from Redial to Am I connected, and a slightly robotic but generally pleasant voice will respond. The voice features really take front seat when paired with Vocalyst, a hosted speech-enabled service that lets you send and receive e-mails, texts, record reminders and more. A one-year subscription is included for free, but after that youll have to pay $24.95 per year.
The voice recognition works great at balancing out the simple, stream-lined design with some of the advanced features on Vocalyst.
This is probably why you bought this thing: to make calls to people without using your hands. The good news is that the M1100 works great. A touch of the device or saying answer will connect you to your call with minimal delay. The reception isnt perfect but its noticeably clear and problem-free thanks to the three separate mics buried in the M1100, one of which is dedicated to noise-cancellation.
I managed to call and place an order for flowers (including providing the address, a message and credit card number) without any problems. Normal phone calls and conversations were similarly clear and problem free. The headset also picked up calls from a healthy distance meaning youd have to try and be out of range for it not to work.
The M1100 boasts a 4-hour talk time and 7-hour standby time, which is important if your phone calls last longer than 3 hours, or more realistically, if you have calls spotted throughout the day.
If youre a power user, the M1100 has all the features youd expect and great call quality. It more than makes up for anything it lacks in immediate flare with the integration of Vocalyst. At $99.99, it is certainly not the cheapest headset out there. But if you are a casual user (or admitted skeptic) looking for a solid, simple, discreet headset, the M1100 is an equally great choice.
Article source: http://feeds.mashable.com/~r/Mashable/~3/7otQWp1bYc0/