Digital Shopping Trend: Social Scrapbooking + Natural UI
“…take a hard look at how the stories about your brand and products are being told and shared. Brands feel constrained by the ecommerce platform when it comes to content – there are still ways to do things differently within this context.” – Hae-Yin Loke, V.P. Experience Design @ Fluid
In our interview, Hae-Yin’s talks the power of content, of creating a unified front for brand and commerce and of great interaction experiences being invisible. His enthusiasm is palpable – as is his expertise.
His digital shopping trends: Social Scrapbooking + Natural User Interface
[Amy] What’s your stand-out digital trend for 2014?
[Hae-Yin] I’ve two things.
1. Social scrapbooking
2. Natural User Interface (NUI)
There are a lot of conversations right now being driven by these topics.
[Amy] Let’s start with social scrapbooking. Describe it for me.
[Hae-Yin] The distribution of content and commerce right now is a one-way street. Brands are scraping content, if they’re doing anything at all, and placing it on their sites. This is changing and needs to change. Open APIs are driving this change.
In 2014, brands will have to be publishers. Right now for retailers the big content play is around products and skus. The way people shop though involves content throughout the shopping process. The consumer is saying “This is how and what I want to show the world.” Brands needs to open up so consumers can do this on their behalf. People have rich stories that go beyond reviews or product information.
Louis Vuitton is doing a good job of this – everyone covets their bags, which makes for great stories. Brands need to listen to the stories being offered up and figure out how to best share them. There’s a new crop of players on the bleeding edge of this – Polyvore, Zappos Labs, trading sites like Bonsy.
These are about social tribes figuring out what they can exchange. This is going to be big in 2014. Slapping Olapic or Instagram photos on an ecommerce site is not enough.
[Amy] With this trend, how do retailers or brands maintain a focus on selling?
[Hae-Yin] It’s still about moving product – whether is overt or not. It just needs to go far beyond “Here is a product recommended based on this product.”
There is important content being created throughout omnichannel – physical events, PR, conversations in social. Brands and retailers need to think about how they exist in these difference spaces. This is a mind shift – social conversations are more than just scraping stuff from Facebook.
Go beyond the website and focus on the fact that content exists in many areas.
[Amy] What’s the first step a retailer or brand should take when it comes to social scrapbooking?
[Hae-Yin] The first step is content. Take a hard look at your content – not just web content. Look at content that goes beyond swatches and product information. Retailers have a hard time dealing with unstructured content – not everything can be pushed into a reviews section.
The power of this content excites me.
Publishing partnerships should also be considered. Vogue partnered with Tavi and got blogger articles that reach a coveted audience. Tavi could express what it feels like to be a 14-year-old in a way Vogue could not. Think about where you can co-opt or partner to extend your story line. I think we’re going to see a lot of partnerships in 2014.
Other examples? Levi’s has a Nerds and Jocks print publication. The content is tight and focused on the free spiritedness that Levi’s owns. We’re going to see a lot more in print. It’s going to take us back to the days of soap opera with a radical twist. Monocle has inventory in Canada – their store is an extension of their print and events – instead of vice versa. Verizon is specializing their retail locations in a way that is story based.
Publishing gives brands and retailers a point of view. There are great stories to be told that aren’t led by product information.
[Amy] Publishing seems like an old model. Aren’t people talking about publishing dying?
[Hae-Yin] What’s dying is the old model of only pushing content out. By publishing I mean taking a hard look at how the stories about your brand and products are being told and shared. Brands feel constrained by the ecommerce platform when it comes to content – there are still ways to do things differently within this context.
Every brand has a theme and a focus. Levi’s owns bring a free spirit – you can feel it in their stores and it makes you feel like a part of the brand. It is a unified story. Carhardtt owns the category of protection. It doesn’t start out being about publishing – they are just great at giving stories outlets. Stories are going to succeed in the social space, not product descriptions.
I mean why is the “About Us” section always relegated to the footer? It houses interesting stories.
Retailers and brands need to think more like pharmaceuticals. They aren’t talking about the medicines, they’re talking about the conditions or what people want to regain. This is how they’re driving sales. It’s about the constellations that surround a core platform.
Brands need to think hard about their brand and then cross-check that their content supports the heart of the brand.
[Amy] How will this trend change what you and Fluid do this year?
[Hae-Yin] We’ll continue to focus on descriptive content that extends beyond product descriptions. Stories around products will be essential – we’ll be cleaning these up, putting them in context and bolstering them.
In 2014, we’ll see that slapping Instagram photos on a site as social proof isn’t the only way to do this. The conversations will be less about whether content is brand or ecommerce and more about unified stories. Carhardtt, for instance, can own how their fabrics saved lives. Which is very different than the usual set of product details.
I’m hoping that ruling content out because it’s not tightly tied to moving skus will cease to be the norm.
[Amy] Talk a bit about Natural User Interfaces.
[Hae-Yin] This is a bit more geeky UI, is driven by the “Internet of Things” and arises out of the fact that technology hardware is teaching us brand new gestures. Is the point and click mouse dead? Should it be? NUI asks is there is a notion of natural UI? It discusses whether one uber gesture language standard is where we should be headed.
The natural part comes from the idea that as design and technology get more and more complex the interface for interaction should become even more invisible.
FitBits, Pebbles, wearable technology have us moving away from point and click. Interfaces are now about much more than fingers. Mobile screens are simplifying design tremendously and the gestures we’ve previously only seen in the movies are not that far off.
It’s more academic at this point but it’s exciting. Technology is driving gestures and gestures are driving interactions. In two years time these types of interactions are going to be more prevalent and more refined.
[Amy] Is this about standardizing gestures across devices or about adapting devices to match natural gestures?
[Hae-Yin] That’s a big question. There’s not one answer to that. Right now it’s about rethinking interfaces. There could be unified standards, like an html, that state these are the new way humans will communicate with machines. There are cultural issues around this – and the fact that standards could limit innovation and design in the first place.
I think the main thing for right now is the movement towards simplification in interfaces. We’re using grids in responsive, we’re reducing interactions – this isn’t just because screens are small. It’s because it makes the interactions better. It’s no longer just about point and click.