By Ashwini Nadkarni (Founder, Appguppy)
The hottest disruptive force in e-commerce is me. And you. And her. In fact, tech savvy female consumers are the single most important factor in the new Me-commerce phenomenon – as well as the key market that Me-commerce companies will need to reach in order to achieve success.
This isn’t the first time around the block for Me-commerce, the practice of mass customization of products for consumers.
Dell revolutionized the world of personal computing with the same built-to-order business model several decades ago. What makes Me-Commerce a tech darling today is both its spread to niche industries such as jewelry (Gemvara), food (Youbar), pet food (Red Mood Pet Food) and mobile applications (my own company, Appguppy) as well as an increasing focus on the personalization of the design and creation experience itself.
Where Mass Customization 1.0 offered a single experience for a built-to-order process, Me-Commerce digs deeper to tailor the customization experience to the goals, desires, and motives of the consumer, leveraging these idiosyncrasies to assist the customer in developing the best possible product and with the best possible experience.
Every revolution requires a tipping point, and the spark on the tinder keg of Me-commerce is likely to come from women. Marketers have long asserted that female consumers are best viewed as individuals rather than a mass market. With higher rates of new media, e-commerce, and smartphone utilization, female consumers are poised to provide the social force necessary to both make Me-commerce startups successful and provide the impetus for traditional retailers to consider exploring new business models.
The thing is: women get Me-commerce. And they have for a while. While Me-commerce is on everyone’s mind as the hottest “new” disruptive force, it’s important to recognize long-established female luminaries in this field.
Maxine Clark, CEO of Build-a-Bear Workshops, revolutionized me-tailing close to a decade ago when she cornered close to a third of the $1.5 billion plush toy industry with her custom-built teddy bears.
It’s clear that harnessing the purchasing power of tech-savvy women is crucial to the success of Me-commerce companies. And that may mean that 2012 will mark the year for women to not only shape the industry as consumers, but also as leaders – get ready for us!
Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below.
About the guest blogger: Ashwini Nadkarni is the Founder of Appguppy, a mobile startup. She is also a resident physician at Boston Medical Center. Ashwini has been published in the Journal of Cardiac Surgery, the American Journal of Psychiatry and BMC Molecular Biology. She holds an MD from Northwestern Medical School and her BSc from McGill University. Follow her startup at @appguppy.