Shout + People + Fun -> Stirr It Up!

Image by Spuz (License)

About a week ago the CEO of Fruugo, Juha Usva, contacted me through Twitter and told me he wanted to hear more about my thoughts about Fruugo. My first impression was ‘What? More? I haven’t even written anything yet!’ But then I realized that in one of my previous posts, Social Media Mycelium, I did write one ambiguous sentence which I perhaps didn’t open enough.

I wanted to post this earlier, but nowadays it seems that time flies by sooo fast. But here it finally comes! Search for an answer to the mysterious question: What did I really mean by saying:

That’s why I think services like Fruugo aren’t doing their concept creation with the terms of the new world.

First things first. In contacting me, Fruugo is doing it in the terms of the new world: they monitor things written about them and they engaged me, an occasional blogger who happened to show interest in them, to write more about them. Thus they are creating buzz. So points to them in this part!

But what was the basis of my assumption in them not doing it right? It’s this: Back when Fruugo was searching, I wanted to be a beta user in their service and also got my access there, but when I went to see the site, it looked a bit dull, empty and without people, so I thought ‘Aah, today I have more busy things to do, I’ll check it out later’. I believe this was in February and I signed in yesterday in order to see what has happened there.

I thought that it was going to be one of the main things in Fruugo, to be with others, to have a community. Instead I see a message like this:

All these tiny little clicks will show up on your profile and over time build it into something grand. It might not seem like much now, but later on we’ll be introducing ways for you to connect all this stuff to other people and meet and talk and darling, it’ll be oh-so-nice. Soon, OK? We want to be the place you bring your friends – and meet new ones – to talk about… shopping!

When you look at the front page of the service, it isn’t that exciting, there’s no action there: people recommending, sharing, judging, voting [okay, there is the thumbs thing]. Today I’m expecting the people now, not tomorrow. The worst thing that one can say to me is that it will be in the ‘near future’. How can I know this service is going to last that long?!

In the post mentioned earlier I wrote that ‘form from smaller to larger’. In this I was referring to one of my even earlier posts Not having a revenue model is the new pink. If you are going to build a service which is based on people, like almost everyone nowadays are, get the people in as early as you can, but make sure they enjoy themselves when you do it.

I’d like to deepen what I’m trying to say here by getting Facebook into this. I would watch carefully what Facebook is going to do in the near future. They already have the community and people just waiting to be engaged to something more.

In Facebook people already have a place where they are comfortable and they know how to use it. One reason for FB being so popular is that most people are happy with less different websites. Facebook has even tried to ruin the learning experience from their people several times by recreating their user interface and thus shattering the familiar user experience but still, people have stayed there. In order to this happen, a service has to be something really great.

One benefit crucial for establishing a web 2.0 e-commerce platform in Facebook: people have already their friends there, they don’t have to seek them again in another service. How long or short is it from that position to, for example to a virtual shopping mall, where you can buy things with your friends or get recommendations from them? They already have the Kamu World there, what really prevents creating something like that to form a shopping experience?

If Facebook was suddenly beginning to offer a platform for e-commerce, maybe even with their own currency thrown into it and thus maybe challenging services like PayPal, what could come out from that? Here’s some statistics on figures in Facebook (source: Facebook):

  • Average user has 120 friends on the site
  • More than 5 billion minutes are spent on Facebook each day (worldwide)
  • More than 30 million users update their statuses at least once each day
  • More than 8 million users become fans of Pages each day

If people spend so much time in Facebook, could they also shop there? Most likely so. Imagine if Facebook would give a chance of shopping experience to this mass? Think about it. What could be the exponential number of recommendations and shouts of products if people have average 120 friends, and even 50% of them began to recommend and talk about products they like or have just bought, from a click away? The answer is: a lot.

So what if you could do the buying straight in Facebook? What would be the user benefits?

  • You wouldn’t have to move to another site to log in and select the products to your basket.
  • You wouldn’t have to write all you information when buying.
  • If there was Facebook currency, you wouldn’t have to use your card, but your points in Facebook.
  • After buying, you wouldn’t have to go back to Facebook to declare ‘I bought it’, because you never left.
  • You could rate the items and review them so that they would always show in Facebook and your friends could see what you like and what are cool products to buy.

What are also crucial for Facebook’s future are these facts:

  • There are more than 65 million active users currently accessing Facebook through their mobile devices.
  • There are more than 180 mobile operators in 60 countries working to deploy and promote Facebook mobile products

We have long heard talks about mobile marketing and using mobile phone’s web features to something else than just something basic like surfing. Here’s a free, too-simple business tip for Facebook [and of course for anyone else too]: If you are planning an e-commerce platform, make sure people can use it through mobile too. Not just to buy, but to have a good user experience too.

In a way I like the idea that Fruugo has in gathering shops in one place and thereby making the shopping easier and I’m not saying that it won’t succeed. I’m just saying that building a service which depends on a lot of people, you should somehow start from the people and get them there. The place seems empty to me.

And maybe I’m walking with the wrong crowds, but almost no one in my network has written or tweeted anything about Fruugo. I believe I’m the only one and there are people more active than me out there. This raises the question why? Don’t they think there’s anything to talk about it [or haven’t Fruugo caused anything to talk about]? Isn’t it appealing to them? No matter what the answers is, this seems alarming to me.

One other thing that I was thinking about was that how is this service different from, let’s say, from Amazon? Maybe I haven’t understood what does it have so great or different from other e-commerce sites? For example: Amazon doesn’t have the products themselves either, there are many shops and people providing the content. There are also the people recommending the products etc, the features you can find today in many services. So in this case, what’s there so special about Fruugo?

The easiness that comes from gathering the shops in one place isn’t, for me anyway, enough. I like to visit different kinds of sites to see how they look like and get the feel of their sometimes cool concepts. It’s the same thing like in the real life with malls and supermarkets: I don’t like to buy everything from a one place, but to visit different kinds of stores with their own personal looks.

So what’s the answer to the question what is that Fruugo isn’t doing in the terms of the new world? I don’t know exactly [you guessed it right?], but when listening the Web, something there has to be. Maybe it is the silence: sites like Mashable are talking a lot about Facebook and Twitter and new services come out all the time. Could it be that Fruugo is lost in the noise of the Web by not shouting with a stronger and more personal voice?

Still, I hope the best for them and am glad that someone in this country tries to accomplish something like this.

2 thoughts on “Shout + People + Fun -> Stirr It Up!

  1. Thanks for the interesting post. You are right – we in Fruugo have to and will be more open about what Fruugo offers for the consumers and retailers. Fruugo is an aggregator, which links many online retailer’s product offering to the one website. That is not revolutionary, many have done it before. Some emphasise price comparison, some social shopping features (and right, it is not that simple to create a society from the scratch), or other features. But what they do not offer, and what has taken much more time and effort we in Fruugo anticipated, is handling the cross-border online retail. There are a number of legal, taxation, consumer protection and other issues which vary greatly between European countries, and thus complicate cross-border e-commerce. You can not see much of it in Fruugo yet, since we have to proceed country by country and right now we operate only in Finland, Sweden and the UK, but there are products from many countries, and the consumers from many countries can purchase the products as well. A small Finnish online retailer without any understanding of the Dutch consumer protection, VAT and the iDeal payment system preferred by dutch consumers, can fulfil the order of the dutch online shopper safely with Fruugo. If s/he would like to sell via, there should be a UK address and bank account. The same applies to and Amazon also tells the sellers they have the responsibility to find out and deal with all the taxes and regulations with international shippings, and also to take care of the returns.
    In fact Amazon started as, and still is, an online retailer selling products from its own warehouses. The marketplace for 3rd party sellers was opened after Amazon had sold books online for 5 years. Marketplace widens the product selection of the Amazon website, the 3P sellers benefit from the Amazon’s wide customer base, and the margin the 3P sellers pay from the sales to Amazon helps Amazon to keep its own prices low.
    Facebook among others tries to find ways to monetise social networks. It will be fascinating to see what kinds of solutions there will be and which ones will succeed!

    • Thank you Sanna for commenting and educating me more on the retail business!

      I can just imagine how complicated establishing a cross-border e-commerce business can get – although didn’t they say EU would make it easier ;). Your efforts in trying to stitch together different policies is something that I really can give credit for. These are often things people won’t realize and won’t find important. That makes this kind of a challenge a complex one when you have to entertain but also get a valid business going.

      I also find it intriguing what we may see in the future. Although Facebook has a head start in the community side, it’s still has to move and live to some direction. Nothing can stay exactly the same in the Web – except maybe the layout of of course.

      Best of luck to you all in trying to achieve your goals!

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