How ShopStyle Mashes Up Your Platform with Theirs / Behavior & Business 1.9

This is the ninth in a series of ten articles focused on designing better cross-platform retail experiences. To read the complete issue, download it here.

I have this playlist on Spotify called Morning Triumphant that’s filled with rock anthems. You know the songs I’m talking about: songs that just get you going. Every morning, I have my Sonos speaker in the bedroom play the songs from Morning Triumphant on random. It’s a new day, it’s a new anthem to get me out of bed and start the day right.

Spotify Premium allows users to play their own playlists during their Uber ride.

I remember late last year when I had an early flight out of Newark airport and needed to get some emails out on the Uber ride over. I had heard of the Spotify x Uber partnership and thought I’d give it a try, a perfect moment to continue the triumphant start to my day. The partnership and mashed up experience made so much sense to me: here I was able to use two of my favorite experiences together in a seamless, personally directed way.

Once retailers have developed a deep sense of customer needs, behaviors, and conversations across platforms (owned and third party), the next step is to find fun ways to leverage the best qualities of each experience. What unique value can our owned experiences provide that a platform like Spotify or Snapchat cannot, and vice versa? What happens when we start to mash up our best features and strengths in ways that serve our customers better?

Business Directive: Mashup Your Platforms with Theirs

When designing a new mobile payments experience for a large financial services firm recently, we encouraged the team to think across all user accounts and experiences (vs. just the accounts they owned). If a customer used Venmo, for example, could we create platform-agnostic ways to support that use while also creating a P2P payment feature that leveraged the firm’s unique strengths? In other words, it gets really inspiring when brands create new experiences that leverage the best of a popular third party platform after realizing they might not have the right experiences to serve customers on their own.

What happens when we start to mash up our best features and strengths in ways that serve our customers better?

ShopStyle’s mashup with Snapchat, through a new app they created called Emoticode, is a great example of this approach. We’ve all experienced the disconnect between seeing an item that we like and not having the ability to buy it then and there. Think about your favorite print magazine — it’s not too long ago that they added URLs in the descriptions and pages at the back to help readers shop stylized looks. Even though the ‘how to buy’ information is there, it’s a bit clumsy and less-than-seamless process to leave a reading mode and jump into a completely different experience to shop.

ShopStyle is one of the faster growing and more innovative retail experiences in the market.

The issue is the same on social media: we take photos of products we like, post or pin them, and then maybe possibly shop for them later on. Or, we see a friend post a photo of a cool bag but have no idea who made it or how to buy it. It’s this inspiration-to-action gap that Pinterest wants its ‘Buy it’ button to solve. The Facebook shopping tab, too.

New Pinterest ‘Buy It’ buttons let people buy products without leaving Pinterest.

ShopStyle took this one step further with Emoticode, a way for ‘Snapchatters, Instagrammers, and others to make their photos linkable.’ Here’s how it works: People snap or post photos and add a hidden URL using emojis and a few letters or numbers. Like this: 👻 🚀 73v. It’s on the user to tie that ‘emoticode’ (get it?) to a live and shoppable URL.

Emoticode works the same in both Snapchat and Instagram, giving users a consistent user experience across platforms.

The cool part is that, when you see an emoticode out in your social world, you can screenshot it and open the image up in the Emoticode app. You then get redirected to the product’s page so you can shop. Bam. Inspiration-to-action solved.

ShopStyle’s Emoticode uses shoppable, emoji-powered links on Snapchat to make shopping easy and integrated.

Is it true that Snapchat and Instagram will likely add this technology themselves, just like Pinterest and Facebook did? Very likely. But what we love is how Shopstyle created a solution based on customer shopping behaviors and needs, mashed up with what their own retail sales channel was doing. In a world saturated with photos and inspiration, as well as customers spending hours upon hours a day on social platforms, they built a user-centered and useful bridge that mashed up ShopStyle with Snapchat. While a ‘Buy it’ button might work, the Emoticode solution is less intrusive, better integrated, and still supports customers as they navigate between behaviorally unique scrolling, consuming, and shopping modes.

The next post in the series, How Rare Pink Makes Conversations Contextual Storefronts, continues to examine ways brands can embrace My Platform Retail. It comes out on Wednesday 10/26. If you can’t wait, you can download the entire issue of Behavior & Business here.

About Behavior & Business

Behavior & Business is a series that explores the behaviors of customers and the ways businesses are meeting their needs in innovative ways that drive growth.

About Runyon

Runyon is a design and innovation firm that helps companies grow. Behavior & Business is indicative how we approach our work: we use equal parts customer behavior and business strategy to inspire the market-facing and revenue-generating experiences that we design with our clients.

About the Authors

Anthony D’Avella is the Founder of Runyon. He designs growth experiences with great brands like American Express, Target, and the Harvard Innovation Lab, as well as with amazing startups. Prior to Runyon, Anthony designed, built, and launched cross-platform businesses at IMG and for Fortune 500 clients in IDEO’s New York studio. He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and teaches venture design in the graduate MFA program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. When he’s not at work, you can usually find him on a beach somewhere with his wife and daughter.

Dr. Nicholas D’Avella is an ethnographer with research interests in markets, expert knowledge, and urban ecologies. His work connects Science and Technology Studies with anthropological themes related to money, exchange, and value. He completed his PhD at the University of California, Davis prior to holding postdoctoral fellowships at the Center for Science, Technology, Medicine & Society at UC Berkeley and at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science & Art. He is currently a Hunt Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Scholar at the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics at NYU.