Anyone who watched the President’s State of the Union address this week may have noticed the many times he used the word “innovate” throughout his hour-long speech. The morning after, many op-eds complained that for all the talk of “out-innovating” the rest of the world, the President didn’t provide any concrete examples of how he envisioned America achieving this. According to a new article on Mashable, 2011′s focus on driving innovation may have an unlikely leader in the Home Shopping Network (HSN), as their new crowdsourcing project suggests.
Looking to disrupt the online retail market, HSN has announced an ambitious crowdsourcing project, in association with “social product development” firm Quirky, that allows its shoppers the opportunity to not just engage in the submission of ideas, but even share in the profits should the HSN online community push their idea to the sales / manufacturing stage.
The idea isn’t necessarily new, as many good companies listen and act on what their customers want to buy in a product. But when HSN’s CEO Mindy Grossman decided that her company would focus largely on curating a shopping experience from within, and combined that idea with the business’ longtime emphasis on product storytelling, a hybrid model for leveraging, and (potentially) selling, products the community has committed to purchase was born. The process is an ambitious one, however, leveraging their massive and loyal community, HSN might be one of just a handful of businesses in the retail industry able to pull it off.
It’s still too early to analyze the results of this innovative new model, but I’m willing to bet that should HSN’s partnership with Quirky result in sales beyond HSN’s online community, retailers will be scrambling to emulate similar exercises in online retail crowdsourcing. The date to watch is January 29, when Quirky’s CEO visits HSN to present the first products born of the new model. In my opinion, the really interesting metric will be the ability of HSN and Quirky to bring these socially developed products to markets outside of the HSN community, as they plan to do. If you take away the storytelling and the attachment of the community curation of a product, what percentage will have the legs to make it outside of HSN’s network? I suppose we will have to wait and see.
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