Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Clever online business models you can adopt



We know of Amazon, Alibaba and Uber but here a few less well-known instances of interesting business models and methods used in the digital economy.  Some are downright disrespectful of traditional business models, disrupting them.

A sample

The new middleman, using the internet to arrange for a consumer to buy as direct as possible from makers, reducing layers of traders...

Deal Décor’s model is to sell furniture directly to customers through the website with a twist.  With the great recession, the Chinese furniture factories had excess capacity. They were eager for business but they were concerned about getting paid. Deal Décor would pay them as the products were shipped rather than a month later. Then unlike traditional furniture retailers, they sell furniture before they are in production. It times the deals for when a factory was producing similar items for other clients and could easily add Deal Décor’s order. Further they order the exact quantity it had sold unlike a store and had the items shipped straight from the factory to customers.  No inventory, no dealers, no need for logistics, less wait time.

Couch trend tracking...

Crane and Canopy releases new duvet covers and sheet sets every other week and designs textiles based on current trends on Pinterest and elsewhere, instead of planning collections seasons ahead of time like most brands.

Clever way to track things that interest the public with immediacy....

Del.icio.us is a social bookmarking service where users tag and store web links. The database “represents crystallised attention - what people are looking at and what they’re trying to remember”. “Visit Del.ico.us at any point of the day and you get a snapshot of what web surfers find interesting at that moment.”

A way to track retail trends and unlike surveys, this is exact…

Fab.com gets users to broadcast purchases via a "bought" button that advertises their shopping habits to friends.  Fab built its user base in part by offering US$5 a month to those who agree to share their Fab purchases and favourites on Facebook.

Useable by restaurant chains using social to fill seats?

GrubTonight help people connect to others (especially new friends) to set up groups for dinners.  The app links smartphone users for dinners, fun evenings and friendship.  It’s social.  Users can browse group dinners through the app, which works with restaurants to fill open seats.

Tapping into precisely what the customer wants instead of best guess...

John Fluevog, a designer of high-end shoes created open source footwear by allowing customers to submit designs. They get to put their names on the shoes.  The best ones get put into production, essentially co-designing shoes with customers. Through this, John Fluevog gets new ideas, knows what customer wants, get free designers with some sales to boot.

Flipping a long used business model and creating more certainty...

Hyperink’s demand-first philosophy flips the way books are selected on its head. Instead of starting with the writer, which is often the case with traditional publishers, they look at Google search trends, what people are talking about on social platforms, and what areas are selling well on Kindle. Once they analyze the data to identify areas where people want books, they then look for a writer for that particular area.

Mines crowd behaviour to produce more relevant material...

Jetpac (sold to Google) creates insightful travel guides by analysing pictures from social networks such as Instagram. It mines publicly shared pictures for visual clues to insights such as ‘bars where women go, the best views; and then present users with city guides suggesting spots that might be of interest.

Traditionally, editors know best, now it’s the crowd.  Since customers cannot be wrong (except for Steve Jobs!), Hyperlink and Jetpac would appear to tap a good business model.  They minimise assumptions.


More examples here, plus a bit of analysis.




Send an email to me, tommi.chen@yahoo.com and I'll reply with further examples. Or if you know of other interesting methods, let me know.  I'll compile and make another post. I also welcome your thoughts, interpretations or disagreements.