Sunday, April 12, 2009

For The Sake Of Consistency...

...I have decided to further analyze the appealing nature and trend of "sample sale" online fashion retail companies, a la the previously discussed Gilt Groupe, as well as many other websites that have followed suit; namely, RueLaLa.

New slogan: "At least thanks to Ruelala you won't be this deep in debt"...? Work in progress.

RueLala has the same structure as in that it is a subscription-based, high-end fashion retail company that provides customers with a selection of a few designer's collections at a staggering discount (50% or more) for a brief amount of time (no more than three days). RueLala uses fixed, promotional pricing for the merchandise sold through their website; they mark their merchandise at a price that could not be found at the designer's sale rack, but limit the offer for a short period of time, as a means to create incentive within the members to invest in the product before the opportunity is lost. Also, the amount of inventory is limited, and many experienced RueLala members know that products sell out way before the sale has ended. By limiting the amount of merchandise as well as the amount of time that the fixed promotionally discounted prices are available, RueLala is creating a limited supply, high-demand environment which increases the likelihood of consumers purchasing the product.

Designer sunglasses+over 50% off+only one pair left= MUST. BUY. NOW.

Considering that this company is considerably green in the online retail industry, actual figures are not readily accessible. Regardless, its pricing plan seems to be effective in that there has been lots of consumer response, whether it be through blogs, the increasing amount of membership, and the attention of the media. They are, in a sense, doing designers and their clients a favor by taking unprofitable merchandise of their hands for a small price and then marking it at a price that is profitable for them, and incredibly appealing to consumers. That way, everybody wins. Considering the success of this business model and the increasing amount of companies utilizing it, I'm sure that RueLala won't be shutting down anytime soon. What I am curious about, however, is how the saturation of this type of online business will effect companies such as Gilt and RueLala's profits in the long term. It will be interesting to see if there is room in the webisphere for all of them, or will they have to stomp each other down with their 70% markoff Christian Louboutin heels. Only time will tell...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

I Love Pandora.

One website that I swear by that is responsible for a good percentage of my music collection is is a pureplay website that acts as an online radio station, however it is very different in an important way. With Pandora, the user types in a favorite music artist or song, and creates a "station" consisting of songs similar to and based around aspects of the user's entry. Pandora utilizes the technology known as the Music Genome Project, which is explained by Pandora as:

"the most sophisticated taxonomy of musical information ever collected. It represents over eight years of analysis by our trained team of musicologists, and spans everything from this past Tuesday's new releases all the way back to the Renaissance and Classical music.

Each song in the Music Genome Project is analyzed using up to 400 distinct musical characteristics by a trained music analyst. These attributes capture not only the musical identity of a song, but also the many significant qualities that are relevant to understanding the musical preferences of listeners. The typical music analyst working on the Music Genome Project has a four-year degree in music theory, composition or performance, has passed through a selective screening process and has completed intensive training in the Music Genome's rigorous and precise methodology. To qualify for the work, analysts must have a firm grounding in music theory, including familiarity with a wide range of styles and sounds. All analysis is done on location."

This technology is incredible in its accuracy and its ability to span the breadth of genres and artist repertiore. I am a big fan of obscure music and artists, and somehow no matter how "hole-in-the-wall" my entry is, they always find a way to find related work that I have never heard of.
Moreover, if there is a song that a user doesn't like, one can press the thumbs-down, "I don't like this" button and the playlist will move forward to the next song. Due to copyright and licensing laws, however, the user can only skip approximately three songs within an hour. But, one can get around this by creating another channel based on another favorite song or artist. And, one can create an unlimited amount of music channels. Amazing.

Also, if you like a song or an artist, they will save it on the playlist to be played repeatedly. There is also a menu under the song that is playing with a plethora of options: "don't play this song for a month," "why was this song selected?", "Move song to another location,"Bookmark the song/artist, and "Buy song from iTunes/Amazon CD/Amazon mp3."

As if that's not enough, since the last time I have visited the site (which has been no longer than three days), there are options to alter the channel, such as "add variety" by adding another favorite song/artist to further narrow down the song selection pool, "find other fans of this song/artist," or "share this station with a friend."

It is obvious that Pandora is at the forefront of online music technology and continue to maintain their reputation. I will remain to be a loyal and consistently intrigued customer.