Friday, January 05, 2007
Before the web came along, apparel was the number one mail order category. In The Long Tail, Chris Anderson quotes Jeff Bezos on some of his early (1994) analysis of what could succeed online:
I went to the Direct Marketers Association and got the list of all the things that were sold remotely. Apparel was the number one remote sales category.
He goes on to say that books were at the bottom. I find this fascinating. I don't think that is the case today -- according to this article apparel doesn't even make the top 8. (Contrast to 2000, when it was #3.) it definitely adds some zing to the potential business aspects of Dressr. I suspect if I had the numbers, that apparel would be one of those categories that has been losing the direct sale shares over things like books. Part of the problem I have -- as a clotheshorse and a online shopper -- is that filtering through the crap for clothing and finding that one perfect piece is incredibly hard.
I want Dressr to be a tool that people who love clothes use to catalog their wardrobes -- but I'm hoping that a happy byproduct is that it will turn into what Anderson calls a Long Tail filter, and make it easy to find the perfect piece that just happens to be in someone else's closet.
So to recap:
1994: Apparel the top category for direct mail sales
2000: Apparel #3 for online retail
2006: Apparel somewhere below #8 for online sales
Apparel sales are not keeping up; I posit that is because of the lack of "long tail filters;" Dressr can potentially fill this gap.
So I claim over there in the sidebar that this blog is about me AND my Clueless-inspired (the movie, duh) wardrobe management system, Dressr.... But I haven't said much about it recently, have I? So... inspired by Pamela Slim's "Start Playing Big" podcast, I'm going to start talking about it, instead of sitting on it quietly....
Let's see.... where to start? I went into Alpha testing in September of last year, had my sister start testing it, and bam! realized just how many of the little things I had forgotten. Some of it should be easy to fix -- setting up user accounts, for instance -- but pieces like making it easy to get pieces of clothing into the system (pretty important, no?) needed some major work. Unfortunately, immediately after these discoveries the server crashed and it took 2 months to get it running again. (I had backups; but we had to ship the entire system to Shuttle *twice* and get an independent analysis by Laboratory Computers here in Austin before they agreed that their motherboard couldn't handle the heat the AMD chipset was putting out.)
Anyway, this was a pretty major obstacle; logistically and emotionally. I lost some time sitting on my butt after that, but now I am raring to go. It's helped that I've decided to go to SXSW Interactive this year -- I've always known that have a deadline and having people to talk to about Dressr is the best motivation for getting things done, so now I have both! (Knowing that there would be friends like Asha at SXSW helped me decided -- and now I'm wondering why I didn't do it sooner...)
OK, this is the "emotional" update -- I'll close out for now, but am going to post some of the specific project status in the next couple of days, and send a note out to my friends to get them to start reading this blog and keep me accountable!
Google doesn't seem to know anything about "Huddle for Excellence", but it did show that I'm not the only person who thought it noteworthy -- Alodi on flickr has a picture of it, too.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
I had a lot of fun last night taking Ben's picture for his LibraryThing profile. We must have gone through about 20 different tries, modifying wardrobe and props for each one. The setting was a no-brainer -- in front of a bookshelf, preferably his most esoteric books. Props were a bit harder -- we started with a nice pedestal glass of beer, tried a couple different pipes, and ended up going the simpler route with none. Wardrobe, too, was modified -- we started with just a t-shirt (it's ThinkGeek's French Linux t-shirt, although you can't see it), but decided to add his blazer when we were pumping up the pomposity. Blazer and no pipe turned out strike the right chord.
Ben tends to squint when he is smiling, so after trying some different facial expressions we got this one -- a nice smoldering gaze.
It was fun!