ZipfWorks: Powering the Next Generation of Connected Commerce Applications

At ZipfWorks, we see a large market opportunity in developing new ways for people to shop online. We see a shift in ecommerce in which we're moving away from a world dominated by Amazon and eBay to one which is driven by mobile apps, social networks and in which buyers, sellers and influencers are participating and connecting in entirely new ways. We're entering a new world in which new products are crowdfunded on Kickstarter, discovered on Pinterest, ogled on Retina touchscreens and discounted on Groupon.

As this shift unfolds over the next few years, we think there will be a new generation of connected commerce applications that better connect consumers to the best products to meet their needs. These applications will live across devices, be highly social, infinitely personalized and provide intensely rich and interactive user experiences. We want to be an enabler of this market shift in two ways: 1) by building best-of-breed commerce applications that meet the needs of consumers, and 2) by providing the tools, resources and best practices for third-party developers to be able launch applications more quickly.

One of our first offerings in this connected commerce world is called StyleSpotter. StyleSpotter is a highly connected multi-platform shopping application that makes it easier and more fun for women to find the fashion they'll love. Through this service, we'll be connecting retailers, designers, shoppers and influencers in innovative new ways and enabling these constituents to better meet their goals and objectives (better experiences, greater exposure, increasing profits).

In addition to StyleSpotter, we'll be launching additional similar services targeting other verticals, such as daily deals, technology and travel. Our development is guided by highly participatory user research, as well as our view of where things are headed in the ecommerce world over the next few years.

Here are some of the key trends we see that guide our research and development:

Tactile commerce. Advances in user interfaces, device capabilities, bandwidth and imaging are enabling high-bandwidth, tactile and high-resolution experiences in which consumers can almost touch items before they buy them. Gone are the days of relying on small thumbnail photos and text descriptions - shoppers can now virtually "try on" the outfit and view every color and configuration in stunning resolution.

End of the 5-star rating. Untrusted reviews aggregated through ratings widgets are rapidly being supplanted by curation and advice by trusted influencers on blogs, Pinterest, Twitter, Pose, Polyvore and other social channels.

The "long tail" of commerce. Chris Anderson first coined this term in 2004, describing the trend away from large entities ammassing most of peoples' attention and towards a distributed, democratized world in which large numbers of small entities share attention. Applied to commerce, we're moving away from a world in which we all buy shoes designed by Nike and TVs designed by Samsung to one where we ourselves may invest in a new eco-friendly running shoe concept and for which our friends, family and Facebook fans become the primary customers.

Mass haggling. Digital price transparency has driven innovation in online couponing and social deals to the point that some sort of price differentiation is becoming a defacto requirement to close a sale online. Shoppers are becoming more adept at finding online coupon codes to get that extra 10% off. They utilize price comparison tools on Google, analyze historical price trends on sites like CamelCamelCamel and check forums and daily deal sites like Woot and Living Social. The consumer is price-empowered and retailers must provide differentiated pricing to compete.

We'll be developing connected commerce services that tap into these trends and enable innovative new patterns and behaviors in online shopping.

Stay tuned to this blog for news on upcoming products. We'll also be posting information on our internal development methodology, current market trends, and our views on technology and marketing.