Start Up Blog

The clock is back

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on July 28, 2011

The good people at Native pointed me to Made in the now which is an interesting web t-shirt company. They make and sell one limited edition t-shirt every 24 hours inspired by the news of the day. One thing they do is have a count down timer in the top right hand corner of their home page. A lot like we are seeing on group buying sites.

It’s an interesting way to add urgency to a store that is always open. A way to get people to act now, when they know they can usually come back whenever they choose. It’s not a new idea, the whole concept of a real estate auction isn’t to get the highest price, but to force a sale date. As the real estate agents only make their commission when the property sells. So bringing a sale forward is in the commercial interest of any business.

One could argue that forcing someone to buy is slightly unethical. But the flip side is that it gives us a way of finding out if we have our marketing mix right sooner than we normally would without have an expiration date.

The question for startups is what will our clock be?

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3 Responses

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  1. Jussi Pasanen said, on July 28, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    It’s an interesting concept, but I reckon the competitive advantage will be relatively short-lived. It can be (somewhat falsely) exciting if one or two shops have countdown timers or clocks, but once everyone’s doing it customers will quickly tune out.

    The limited edition t-shirt example aside – which is actually novel – I see this as an online equivalent of the never-ending sale that traditional retailers have on in Melbourne. People are certainly starting to see through that.

  2. Steve Sammartino said, on July 28, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    Yep, points well made.

    I guess another way of putting it is how do we limit supply and invent exclusivity?

    Steve.

    • Jussi Pasanen said, on July 28, 2011 at 3:51 pm

      Good question Steve. I’m all for “inventing exclusivity” as long as it’s not just artificial and there’s something tangible in it for the buyers too. Selling the same-old with a made-up deadline is taking the consumer for a fool.

      Let’s answer the question with an example: Kickstarter is awesome. They really have struck a beautiful balance between an idea, seller, buyers and constraints (including time and scarcity). More services like these, please.


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