Social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn provide an open forum for retailers to interact with consumers, better analyze shopper preferences and respond to feedback. Although these customer-centric sites have brought forth a new era of Voice of the Customer (VoC) strategies, new sites such as RNKD (pronounced “ranked”) are emerging to create a community of retailers’ most loyal customers.
Launched in beta during November 2011, RNKD was designed as a social network that allows users to share photos of items in their closets. Photos are uploaded and organized by item category, brand and the store in which it was purchased. Subscribers receive points for every photo they upload into their RNKD gallery and whenever someone “likes” their items. Points are redeemable for gift cards from retailers, including Gilt Groupe and Zappos.com.
To increase the frequency of photo uploads and overall user interaction, the RNKD platform conducts special contests such as “highest rated shoes,” “best watch collection” and “best closet.” Winners are chosen based the size of users’ collections; the more photos subscribers upload, the greater likelihood they have of winning. Integrating a game-inspired points system increases usage and overall member engagement, according to Nick Swinmurn, Founder of RNKD.
“We believed that if we tapped into what people already have in their closet, there would be an opportunity to create a stronger community,” Swinmurn noted. “Most applications focus on new items people buy or what shoppers are going to purchase in the near future. Since most people consider their closets very personal, we needed an effective incentive to get them to share what’s in them. Using rewards or gift cards was a way to show members what they can get back for participating.”
The RNKD platform archives photographs of accessories and clothing, allowing retailers to observe their target consumer base and track popular items, according to Swinmurn. This provides brands and merchants with detailed insight typically not found on social networking sites.
“Today’s retailers only have Facebook and Twitter as a way to gain insight into their consumers’ preferences and overall behaviors,” Swinmurn said. “But in reality, merchants have no way of knowing whether a shopper has five pairs of Nikes versus one, for example. RNKD is an effective platform for brands to see everything from the consumer side, such as what they’re buying and what they prefer from a specific retailer.”
In the near future, Swinmurn anticipates that the RNKD platform will provide a more tailored experience for users based on site participation and activity. “Our long-term goal is to provide a personalized shopping experience based on how consumers interact on RNKD,” he said. “For example, the more images users upload or the more they ‘favorite’ other items, the greater access they’ll have to rewards and the higher discounts they’ll receive. This initiative also allows retailers to analyze their most loyal consumer bases and provide them with relevant deals, such as discounts on sought-after items.”
RNKD research of site users reveals that the most popular brands uploaded to date include Express, H&M and Ralph Lauren. Currently, 54% of users are female and 46% are male. RNKD currently maintains a roster of more than 1,300 brands in its database. The average user uploads approximately 24 photos to his or her account.