Youtse Sung
Youtse Sung 8 April 2016
Categories B2C, Content, Ecommerce

How Tinder Is Re-wiring the High Street

As the popularity (and controversy) of Tinder has grown, many brands have started to copy the brand’s simplistic yes-no interface for their own apps. This has kicked off a UX and design phenomena rapidly becoming known as Tinderisation.

With over 100 million downloads, 50 million monthly users and 1.4 billion swipes a day, Tinder has quickly become the go-to meeting place for the app generation. Through its fun, intuitive, and frankly addictive user interface, Tinder’s simple “swipe right for yes, left for no” approach has earned it a place on mobile home-screens around the world – not to mention a valuation of $1.35 billion.

While originally used for purely functional applications such as political polling (e.g. Voter) and recruitment (e.g. Jobr) sites, many such apps received criticism for their trivialisation of complex issues. One area where Tinderisation is thriving however, is in the marketing and ecommerce space.

How the Tinder-style UI works for ecommerce

As unromantic as it may seem, if there’s one thing that Tinder is truly good for, it’s browsing. Tinderisation offers the perfect platform for those brands with visual products that are likely to be bought based on snapshot details such as colour, price and aesthetic design. In this way, Tinderisation has given retailers back something that was previously lost in the rush to get online – the ability to browse.

Re-creating the serendipity of high street shopping

One of the biggest issues for online retailers is their inability to generate any real notion of serendipity. Ecommerce sites are great at providing recommendations, accurate search results, and helping customers to find what it is that they’re specifically looking for. What they struggle with however, is re-creating the serendipity of a physical shopping experience. 

Even ecommerce giants such as Amazon still struggle to provide an environment where customers can stubble upon goods that they’ve never even considered before - the “happy accidents” of a traditional in-store shopping spree.

With a Tinderised interface however, swiping through products to choose yes or no is just about the closest thing a customer can get to wandering through the aisles of a physical store. Products brush past their eyes in a flash of colour and shapes, without shipping details, abundant options or endless reviews. Just a scroll of colours and deals occasionally grabbing a customer’s gaze as they saunter from A to B.

Who is Tinderising?

This opportunity to reclaim the serendipity of high street and supermarket browsing has resulted in an influx of fashion and retail brands looking to try their luck with their own Tinder designs. The online retailer Net-a-Porter has launched its own Tinderised app the Edit, allowing customers to browse the retailer’s catalogue and develop wish lists in a simple yes-no fashion. Similarly, Stylect has jumped on the trend with a swipe-based app for shoe shopping. 

Even entirely new retail outlets have successfully launched off the trend, with the app-only Grabble promising to become the next “Tinder for fashion”.

Tinderisation and the balance of content versus commerce

While it’s all well and good for brands to jump on this trend while it’s hot, we in marketing must also be wary of how such trends will impact the wider ecommerce industry as a whole. As one example, the move towards Tinderisation could be seen as placing content marketing well and truly in the firing line.

Content marketing relies on a certain depth of information and customer experience. It relies on customers building slow, yet strong relationships with particular products and brands. However, as any critic of the Tinder generation will tell you, the decision to swipe right instead of left is anything but a “relationship”. Tinderisation, like Tinder itself, is not about relationships, but rather about aesthetics and the gamified nature of the app itself. This approach is opposed to that of content marketing, placing short-term decision making ahead of nurturing long-term brand loyalty.

As such, marketers that embrace Tinderisation should be wary not to undermine their own relationship building efforts outside of the ‘swipe’. The Tinder interface provides an amazing user experience, but these ‘micro-moments’, as Google calls it, must be backed up by relevance in the long run. With a wealth of data collected from the swipes, brands must look to cultivate their customers’ interest and preference, to offer more than just a list of swipe-able products. Content marketing remains a vital part of that cultivation process. With a solid content and product database in your backend you can build real relationships and focus on developing a contextualised interface that really works for you and your customers.

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