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?