E-commerce promises to deliver customised recommendations and frictionless purchasing for consumers, but too often it produces its own set of anxieties. Algorithm-based recommendation engines can endlessly regurgitate products similar to previous purchases, producing a bland simulacrum of an individual’s actual taste. Cumbersome mobile checkout processes can frustrate attempts to make purchases on the go.
Lyst, a shopping platform with offices in London and New York, aims to overcome these limitations, according to co-founder Chris Morton. Users can follow brands, bloggers, magazines and tastemakers that interest them, and Lyst will keep them informed of new styles and items. Recommendations are based on affinities in taste rather than previous purchases. ‘In some ways it’s analogous to Twitter, where you follow brands and people to effectively create a customised news feed, and because you’re interested in the news sources it’s relevant to you,’ Morton tells LS:N Global. ‘Lyst is a very similar model, but it’s creating a commerce experience for you.’
Lyst also recently launched a universal shopping cart, which enables users to add items from many sites and check out through a single streamlined process. ‘This is particularly important on mobile devices… where the friction associated with each checkout process is cumbersome, whereas now on Lyst it’s a single click and that’s it.’ Morton says mobile commerce has grown from 5% to 10% of the company’s business four years ago to more than 40% today.
Lyst is also working to personalise shopping in stores using Beacon technology, which facilitates communication between consumers and store systems. ‘You walk into a store and we can show you on the screen items that have been added by the brands and people you follow, which effectively is personalising that shopping experience,’ explains Morton.
Top five take-outs
1. Rethink recommendations. Don’t assume consumers want to see more of what they already have. Offer fresh and exciting products based on their affirmed interests.
2. Integrate editorial with commerce. Find creative ways to shorten the distance between inspiration and purchase.
3. The smartphone is the glue binding digital to real-world commerce. Use it to think about how to personalise real-world shopping experiences.
4. If you are in e-commerce, consider how to represent your brand in physical form. Lyst is taking over space formerly occupied by White Cube Gallery in Hoxton Square to convey the essence of its brand.
5. Open up the checkout process. Link it to collaborative, integrated platforms such as Lyst, which simplify the experience for consumers.