How Quickly Can You Add A New Touchpoint?

Here at Forrester we have been talking about the concept of "agile commerce" for some time now, but it's not always easy to point to live examples of “agile”businesses. What is agile commerce? How do I become agile? Both are very valid questions that we are in the process of building out a series of research documents and case studies in order to answer.

But there is a live example happening right now that encapsulates what agile is all about for me.

 Pinterest.

For those of you who are yet to become completely addicted to Pinterest (and you will), it's basically an image sharing site that allows you to group together images from around the web into categories and pin them to a virtual pin board. It creates highly visual mood boards, wish lists, galleries, and collections of images that link back through to the original source (which is where Pinterest makes its money). And since so many Pinterest boards are all about style — fashion and home in particular — it has the potential to be a bit of a retail gold mine.

 

Unlike Facebook, which is much more about social connections, it looks like Pinterest users are more in a discovery and pre-shopping mode when they are pinning and are pre-inclined to buy if they click through to a retail website. With an ever-expanding network of users, Pinterest has the potential to bring some much needed serendipity to web shopping.

Pinterest is now in the sights of some major retailers. Amazon, eBay, Sephora, and others have now placed "Pin it" buttons on the product pages of their websites, allowing browsers to pin products to their own boards. And this is where the link to agile commerce comes in.

Look carefully and you can see a little red "Pin it" button inbetween the good old "Tweet" and "Like" icons in the pic above.

Pinterest is a new touchpoint.

So new that we don't yet know how it's really going to work as part of the customer journey, and whether it's even going to have a significant impact at all. But agile businesses are happy to experiment, and can do so quickly, adapting Pinterest into their touch point mix. They will undoubtedly be tracking what happens through detailed analytics. So rather than waiting to see how Pinterest grows, building a business case, seeking senior approval for a 5-year ROI case and then launching a project to make the change, these agile businesses have the processes, technology infrastructure, and, most importantly, culture, to include Pinterest into their mix and either reap the rewards early or fail fast.

Adding a single button onto a product page isn't really the biggest change a retailer will ever make to its website. But it's the a combination of the adoption of a new touchpoint and the point at which they do it (early) that sets these companies out as being agile. 

We’ll be talking more about these issues at our eBusiness & Channel Strategy Summit in London on May 23rd. I look forward to seeing you there. There are details of the Summit here, or you can follow the Summit on LinkedIn here.  

Comments

Agile and its beginnings

Brad Power wrote a recent blog for Harvard Business Review on the topic of what we can learn from IT. It is republished here: http://successfulworkplace.com/2012/03/29/look-to-it-for-process-innovat...

It was mostly misunderstood, based on the comments I read. IT has been forced by the rapid pace of technology change to take a highly agile approach to delivering information technology capabilities. Business can take a lesson from what IT has become...a fast-paced, temporary-teaming, purpose-driven organization that can form a team around an idea and quickly knock it out. That's something business needs to lear from. It is called Agile in IT but the concepts are completely transferable to business.

For companies to be able to respond to the changing marketplace, they'll need to be as agile as IT. Pinterest is a great example...a button on a page is technology, but how to take full advantage of what's behind it...that's agile business.

Agile

I'll take a read of that link, and I completely agree with you. Having come from an IT background myself and been heavily involved with "Agile Development" I can see very clearly what "business" can learn from it. But I've always hated the distinction between "The Business" and "IT". At Forrester we are encouraging IT shops to transition into being "Business Technology" - a well needed change.

But as to business agility - for a modern online business with a decent web platfomr and CMS, sticking a Pintrest link on your site shold be literally 5 minutes work. Not all retailers are in that position, but even so, its not the adding of the link thats the interesting point here. Its the business attitude of experiment, analyse and fail fast or lead the market that interests me. Its a risk taking attitude that says "no one really kows how Pintrest is going to evolve, its too new, so lets try it and find out". But that risk has to be taken with apporpriate controls, check and balances to learn from what's actually happening. In this case, analytics are key to delivering that insight.

My question is : Will it be

My question is : Will it be retailers who want to put the "Pin it" button on product pages or the product makers. Ultimately it will be product makers who want to attract people to product ?, though I agree that retailers also have some stakes but products change over a period and these are not the USP of retailer. Rather the USP of retailer is service and customer experience. Please share your views.

Pin It button

At the moment its the retailers that own the customer relationship. But this is changing. More and more manufacturers are selling directly, but those that do recognise that they can't ailenate retailers, they have to build direct relationships with consumers that ideally compliment, not canaibalize their existing sales channels thorugh major retailers. Longer term, assuming Pintrest isn't just a flash in the pan (which I don't think it is - I think it will get bought reasonably soon by Google or FB), both retailers and manufacturers have a stake here - and there's no reason why the same product couldnt be pinned from a retail or a manufacturer website.

What's interstsing about Pintrest is that it's allowing potential shoppers to engage at a level that intersts them - products - not at a macro brand level where most Facebook and Twitter activities are taking place.

Agile Business

This is very interesting and I need to learn more. We recently launched our new service, www.ringrang.us, and to be honest I never thought about it from this perspective. Thank you

Larry Miner, Pres/CEO
RingRang LLC