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ShoeDazzle quit its curated monthly subscription model.

Stashed in: Celebrities, Best PandaWhale Posts, @bakadesuyo, Commerce, Kardashian, Monetization, @jessicaalba, U2, Costco, Personalization, Cognitive Bias

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To make themselves accessible to all consumers, ShoeDazzle ditched its subscription model and made everything forty bucks:

The subscription model made ShoeDazzle special: every month members would get specially curated items automatically sent to them.

Now ShoeDazzle will be just another ecommerce site. They're "trading status for scale".

I guess they're signalling that the curated monthly subscription model doesn't scale?

This part of the article really nails it:

Sure the brand still has the cachet of celebrity – and the personalization aspect is a draw.  But as a writer in New York Magazine observed, “It’s probably only a matter of time before all retail websites follow this practice of automatically recommending things to you based on your size, brand preference, and past purchasing history.”

If everyone has personalization, what differentiates one ecommerce site from another?

Algorithms. Product selections. Price. Service. Trust. Visibility.

So besides Amazon, Zappos, Woot, and ThinkGeek, are there any other ecommerce sites you recommend?

I'd like to see more real curation here. Those retailers largely sell high volume things you can get elsewhere. It'd be great to have a site/system where you could find niche products related to your areas of interest. Etsy is great starting point but who knows me well enough to find the gems buried in there that I might like? Who is willing to dig deep? The digital equivalent of going to yard sales and estate sales to happen across that amazing find.

By the same token there is also the area of "cool." It has no objective classification. It's all taste and it's always changing. Just like A/B testing, algorithms are inherently reductionist and only work after the fact. Who can tell me what will be cool tomorrow? We see this happening in the fashion area (like ShoeDazzle) but how many other areas need this? And do we want celebs curating -- or is that really marketing in disguise? Are experts better -- and what IS an expert in this arena? User votes? Algorithms? This is going to be interesting. :)

This is going to be very interesting.

More customization means there are ever-more things we could buy.

How the heck do people figure out what TO buy?

If the answer is Pinterest Pinboards, I'm going to be very disappointed.

I do have a recommended products stash, but I've only just begun to populate it.

Amazon has become the default place to go when you know what you want.

I don't think by any means they have become the default for when people do not know what they want, but are ready to buy something new, fun and cool.

Agreed -- that sort of curation / filtering / recommendation is a wide open playing field right now.

I think as PandaWhale evolves there will be more people talking about more products here.

I'll have to think about the design implications of that. It would be great to be able to buy things in the context of reading about them.

Having Kim Kardashian gives them the opportunity for levels of exposure/scale that the subscriber model definitely holds them back from. I think they are a victim of their own success in a way. It doesn't make sense for U2 to play 500 seat venues knowing they can sell out 10k+ person theaters nightly.

Do you think ShoeDazzle will always be "the Kim Kardashian company" or is there opportunity for it to engage multiple celebrities?

It could definitely engage multiple celebs but I think anytime you're dealing with names that big there will be enormous pressure to go more mainstream to fully exploit a brand that size.

If you're putting together an indie movie and then Tom Cruise wants to be in it, it's probably not going to be an indie movie anymore because people are going to be happy to quintuple your budget and make it a summer release if you can just make a *few* tweaks to the story here and here... You happily trade status for scale because with a big star scale is easy. Oprah's book club is a good example.

That's true; aside from philanthropy there are very few endeavors that have a lot of celebrities involved.

On the other hand, newspapers and magazines regularly have a staff of experts, mavens, and taste makers.

I wonder why no place on the Internet has assembled such a community of curators yet.

But isn't the CURATION still there? They're just nixing the subscription.

Curation is there, but without them sending new curated selections monthly automatically, it loses some of the magic.

There's something people love about getting a mystery box of specially-selected goodies on a regular basis, without having to think about going to the site and choosing out of a curated list.

Without any knowledge of what's going on there, I think shifting away from subscriptions is a mistake. Even Amazon has been busy pushing its subscription services.

It's fine to let people buy off the site, but make sure everything comes out for subscribers first (maybe 60 days in advance) and give subscribers a break on the unit prices.

Chris, I agree with you.

Subscriptions are what make Amazon and Costco profitable.

Something is wrong about this monetization change.

I interviewed over there almost 2 years ago when they were just starting up (I would have been Employee #1, the first non-founder). The subscription model was always secondary to the celebrity-curation aspect.

That interview did not go well, since I had literally the day before interviewed with a very young Beachmint and noted the virtual identicalness of the two companies' models as described... Neither Messrs Lee or Eng were enthused with the comparison... and I was nonplussed by their attempt to wow me with celebrity access.

By comparison, it looks like Jessica Alba's is purely subscription and has nothing to do with celebrity curation.

I think in the long run, subscriptions trump celebrity-curation.

Not only that, is purely name brand, a la Trader Joe's. It makes a ton of sense--moms want to feel like they're buying the right stuff, but they don't really need a lot of choices. In fact, a lot of choices might decrease sales.

Fundamentally the folks buying from Honest *need* products for their kids; do the folks buying from shoedazzle *need* their product on a regular basis? Not sure who their target user is but IMHO successful subscription products based more on perceived need and/or regular use (e.g. Dropbox, Netflix, Honest, Github, Cable, Cell) rather than perceived want or occasional use.

Glancing at shoedazzle I can't imagine a majority need them on a monthly basis. Said another way, what is the next best alternative if said service disappears tomorrow night? Perhaps there are few good alternatives to Honest whereas there are a plethora of alternatives for ShoeDazzle that would be a frictionless change.

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