By now, most of the fashion world has seen (and pored over) Net-a-Porter’s latest stroke of genius, Net-a-Porter Live. The tool offers a real-time view of what shoppers across the globe are buying, wish-listing and sharing from the site. For those that have already checked it out – and potentially lost a number of hours to it – you will know that it is the most addictive thing that has happened to online fashion since eBay; Signature9 aptly described it as “equivalent to online fashion crack”.
After it launched yesterday, an interesting question popped into my inbox, a one-liner from a friend far away… “What is the point of Net-a-Porter Live?”
As a bit of background, the launch of Net-a-Porter Live was powered by insights from the retailer’s head office where they have had live sales information displayed on large screens in the lobby for close to three years. Founder Natalie Massenet explained that visitors were always drawn to the screens, intrigued by the real-time nature, and from there, after a few tweaks, Net-a-Porter Live was born.
So, what makes Live so addictive and appealing? The key driver is that it provides shoppers with a level of voyeurism not often available (Zappos Mappos is an exception). It is human nature to be curious about what others have, what they want and what they like. As our world becomes increasingly open, we yearn for more. Live essentially provides this at a basic level. Your mind wanders as you watch the garments go by… who is the socialite in Monaco who just dropped over £3,000 on an Erdem gown? Which lucky lady in London just scored the Rick Owens blister-washed leather jacket?
The experience is a form of social shopping with six degrees of separation (if you were shopping with 12,000 of your closest uber-wealthy friends) and that provides buzz around certain items that keep getting added to carts. This buzz creates the illusion of scarcity, which as we all know creates demand. It’s not an issue that many of the users are spectators, because Live provides them with something to aspire to, and when they do save up the cash for their first luxury purchase, we’re betting that they will head straight to Net-a-Porter. For those that have the cash now, it’s the perfect form of discovery, while you may not have time to trawl through the site, you can see at a glance what is popular and purchase it within a couple of clicks.
It is unusual for a business to provide such a wealth of information to the public, and the launch of Live marks a level of openness and boldness that the retailer can afford to have since its acquisition by Richemont. But surely Massenet had this up her sleeve all along. She told the Telegraph “(It) will turn into a powerful selling tool that will be unleashed worldwide”. Massenet knows her business and knows that Live has the potential to engage shoppers with content on a level that has never been achieved before. She went on to say, “This is an incredibly exciting step forward and we cannot wait to see what unfolds”.
We couldn’t agree with you more, Ms Massenet.