Bits & Bytes | Rank & Style, The Hunt, Stuffster

Bits & Bytes is a monthly showcase of noteworthy digital innovations in the retail space, courtesy of research consultancy GDR Creative Intelligence.

The Hunt | Source: GDR Creative Intelligence

LONDON, United Kingdom — Shopping online can be a quick and easy process for consumers who know what they’re looking for. For those who don’t, the sheer volume of available options can make it feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. Rank & Style simplifies shopping decisions for women by providing unbiased, data-driven ‘Top 10’ lists of beauty and fashion products. These lists are aggregated by an algorithm from product reviews, bestseller lists, editorial content, and other online sources. Items are selected based on their popularity, quality, and value, with negative comments filtered out using pre-identified words and ratings.

The lists are based on seasonal and trending topics, such as facial suncreams or metallic sandals. Users can request topics that they’d like to see, and save their favourite lists, which include links to where items can be purchased. Through an affiliate sales model, Rank & Style receives commission for click-throughs, and 5-10 percent of sales completed on the retailer’s website. Retailers will soon be able to partner directly with Rank & Style to receive data and insights that can be used for their own marketing purposes.

Harnessing the power of the crowd, The Hunt is a social shopping platform that helps consumers find and buy items they’ve seen in photos. As well as linking to images of products found while browsing the web, users can connect their social media accounts and share photos they’ve liked on Tumblr, Instagram or Pinterest. After adding a description and indicating whether they want an exact match or something similar, other users can help them identify and source the product online. The platform thus builds a commercial channel into images that may not contain any retail information.

Members can ‘gem’ the products they like best, receive updates on them, and leave styling suggestions and other comments. The site also enables members to recommend specific e-commerce sites and sharing information on their sizing, delivery, quality and service. Since it launched in beta in January this year, The Hunt has gained 65,000 members, and found 115,000 products from over 10,000 unique stores. Users spend an average of 24 minutes on the site, and interact mainly with fashion, homeware and lifestyle products.

Stuffster gives customers more control over the price they pay for products. It’s an online shopping tool that not only tracks the price of desired products across the web, but also notifies the user once the items are marked down to their pre-specified price. Users install a ‘Stuff+’ button to their toolbar and use it to add products to their ‘Stuffboards’ as they browse e-commerce sites. Whenever they add a product, they’re asked to enter the price that they are willing to pay for it. Stuffster then tracks the product on the original site and compares prices for the same item on over 10,000 other sites. Its tracking technology closely monitors daily price fluctuations, which chief executive Keir McConomy claims can vary by up to 30 percent. This means the tool has utility beyond just identifying lower prices during popular discounting periods. Users are also sent weekly emails to keep them updated on the prices of all products.

Sheena Patel is features editor at GDR Creative Intelligence, a London-based foresight consultancy that identifies innovation in retail, branding and hospitality.