RNKD: Zappos Founder Launches New Voyeuristic Ecommerce Site
Zappos founder and all-around startup all star Nick Swinmurn is back on the scene with RNKD, a spanking-new ecommerce site that rewards users for what’s already in their closets.
The concept is simple: Take pictures of all the things you have in your closet. Tag them by brand and purchase location and get rewards and deals based on your proven likes. Own enough Nike sneakers and you could earn discounts or exclusives on upcoming Nike sales.
Swinmurn has always tried to stay ahead of ecommerce. With Zappos, the shoe sales site Swinmurn founded in 1999, the trend in sales was to offer the best selection. Once that market became saturated, companies started competing on who could offer the lowest prices. Swinmurn is betting the next trend will be personal and social shopping.
While RNKD is not the first ecommerce site to think of this, it is taking a fresh approach by rewarding people for what they already own and combining it with strong social features. Performing actions on RNKD rewards users with points. These actions include adding new clothing, liking other people’s photos or participating in contests. The higher your point value, the better chance you have of winning weekly giveaways and contests.
There are tiered rewards to make sure newcomers have a shot at winning some deals. For example, users can earn badges, much like Foursquare badges, for uploading, commenting or collecting a large amount of a certain brand. There are also individual ranks for types of clothing. Shoe fanatics may not be able to win many “Jacket” contests but they’ll fare better in categories where they rank higher. There will also be badges and rewards for subjective categories such as “Best Wardrobe” or “Most Improved” to help inspire users to keep uploading.
Those uploaded photos can be kept entirely private or, as the RNKD team hopes, shared with the whole world. These public profiles can be searched and followed much like a Facebook profile page but made entirely of closet images. Want to see cool winter coats? A search shows uploaded images of people wearing their own digs. There’s also a mobile app to help you earn points on the go.
RNKD is sort of an odd ecommerce site. Emphasis has been put on identifying brand loyalties (and consequently, shopping habits) rather than providing a sales sites for users. RNKD is both for consumers and for brands. Users get cool deals and brands get to find out who is actually buying their stuff. After all, aren’t previous purchases are the best predictors for future purchases? This idea, knowing your customers, has tremendous legs. Bands, for example, sell merchandise all the time but after money changes hands it’s hard to know who bought what. Now fans of, say, The Strokes, can tag a photo of them wearing merch and The Strokes can reward them.
Swinmurn has left much of the site’s features up in the air. He says it’s currently self-funded with a skeleton staff of just three people. Will he allow person-to-person sales or barters? It depends on the demand. How will he prevent people from gaming the system? Hopefully the site’s community will self-police itself. Will brands buy-in en masse? Hopefully they’ll see value and jump in. Right now the deals, like $500 gift cards, are all being seeded from the RNKD team.
It’s the main lesson Swinmurn learned after Zappos: Don’t worry about the small stuff and just get out there. “You should spend your time doing something instead of talking about what you’re about to do,” Swinmurn says.
One unintended consequence is that the site, which is now in open beta, has taken on a light, voyeuristic tone. Sort of like a hot-or-not but with rewards. Most users seem to be uploading images of themselves wearing articles from their own wardrobes. The point is to earn likes so the pictures are often made to be as flattering as possible. Not to worry, none are even half as skintastic as those American Apparel ads.
Does RNKD sound like a site worth signing up for? And why do people associate their identity with the clothes they wear? Let us know in the comments below.
Swinmurn’s RNKD Profile
Image courtesy of Flickr, tibchris
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