In preparation for the release of our upcoming Future Of Retail report, we reached out to Swaggable- a product sampling service that allows users to try out products that they want for free in exchange for sharing their experience with the item on Facebook. To begin, users tell Swaggable which types of products they’d like to try and receive free samples of them in exchange for sharing reviews of their experience on Facebook. The service additionally determines which items to send by asking users demographic questions, helping marketers hone and sample the consumers most likely to use their products when it hits the market. We spoke to Swaggable Founder and CEO Adnan Aziz about how the startup is revolutionizing the concept of product sampling by leveraging the word of mouth offered by social graphs.
Tell us a little about Swaggable.
Swaggable is bringing product sampling to the social graph. We believe that trying a new product is a very social experience-when you find something new, you want to share that with the rest of the tribe. However, traditional product sampling, as done in-store or at events, has been poorly targeted and isolated. When brands sample now, they don’t have a good sense of who tried their product, if they liked it, if they told their friends or if they bought it. Meanwhile on the social web, it’s no secret that people don’t care about ads but rather care about what others say. In addition, users are looking for better relationships with brands and are more than willing to share their new finds with their friends. We’re tapping into the social web to connect brands and consumers at a deeper level than advertising- at experience. Users get to try new products that they like and brands finally get a way to drive real social referrals, so we get to make marketing better for both!
How does it work? Describe the integration of a person’s social graph at different stages of its service. Why is this important?
Users signup via Facebook Connect and directly tell us which products and categories they’re interested in, through various means like “wants” buttons on products or by answering questions. Since we have a very good understanding of users’ demand signals, we’re able to match users with interesting new products to try, from our brand clients. After trying a new product that has been shipped to them, users are prompted to write an honest review and share their new experience with the community. Because it’s a very natural process that users “get,” Swaggable sees unincentivized review rates north of 80% and similarly high sharing rates to Facebook. These engagement rates are unprecedented and we think it’s due to the power created by driving relevant experiences and making them social.
We’re very big proponents of putting users’ sharing controls in their own hands and only asking for information when it makes sense. For instance, we present users with optional questions related to a product, when they click the “want” button on the product. It’s in stream, it’s natural and it feels like a conversation rather than a DMV form. We’ve grown organically to 11K users by virtue of our users bringing their friends in through shared content or direct invites- about 22% of our users have invited friends to join them at Swaggable, and with review rates north of 80%, [we] have the most reviews on the web for most of our products!
We have noticed that retailers and brands are leveraging intelligent algorithms to analyze social data such as a person’s ‘likes’ and ‘pins’, as well as those of their friends, and/or previous purchase history to create a more personal and curated shopping experience for their customers. Do you see this trend manifesting on a wider scale? How so?
“Likes” and “pins” are certainly are a great first step towards identifying relevancy for users and thus giving them a better experience. In general, the social web should and will bring consumers and marketers closer together. We’ve only just started seeing this emerge. Currently it’s manifesting itself at the top of the purchase funnel around awareness via social ads and weak social signals, like “pins” and “likes.” What we’re witnessing now is the emergence of social commerce, in that it’s become incredibly easy for users to signal to each other what they find interesting to purchase. These social interactions between people are going to perpetuate down the purchase funnel from simply noting things they like, to richer more valuable experiences, like helping each other decide what to buy in real-time. Marketers in-turn, will have to respond to these new opportunities with better experiences for users.
What are the opportunities for retailers partnered with Swaggable?
We’re currently in Beta and are figuring our way around the world but we fundamentally see retailers, both online and brick & mortar as key stakeholders in our vision. Social commerce won’t be real until it drives trackable purchases, and that won’t happen without retailers. Simply put, retailers are at the bottom of the purchase funnel and the social commerce revolution is heading towards their door. It’s going to take an ecosystem, to bring social commerce from awareness to purchase and retailers are part of that. We’re very excited about working with retailers and if we’re not already talking with them, they can contact us at email@example.com.