By David Dorf on Nov 01, 2010
Every Christmas season Amazon runs their "Customers Vote" event where customers get to vote on potential promotions. The promotion with the most votes wins and only those that voted get the chance to buy it. It certainly adds "lottery excitement," and I'm sure it drives lots of traffic to the site.
Groupon, which also allows people to vote on promotions, takes a slightly different approach. A certain number of customers agree to the promotion before it becomes valid. The social aspect adds excitement and camaraderie.
Walmart has recently combined the two concepts into Crowd Savers, an application on Walmart's Facebook page. In order to participate, you must "like" Walmart so you can see the application. A potential promotion is displayed alongside a required number of "likes." If enough people like the promotion, it becomes valid for everyone over at walmart.com.
For example, last week's promotion was a 42" Plasma TV for $398 with wall mount. It required 5,000 likes, which it achieved so the price was lowered to $398 at walmart.com for everyone. (Its still available at that price as of this writing.)
Letting "the crowd" help determine promotions is part of the Democratization of Retail, but I think this approach comes up a little short. With Amazon, you have to play to benefit -- no so with Crowd Savers. Once enough "likes" are accumulated, everyone benefits from the promotion, regardless of whether they've even heard of Crowd Savers. Not sure if that's sending the right message to shoppers. Also, with Groupon there's some skin in the game, but with Crowd Savers anyone can "like" the promotion with no ramifications, good or bad.
Two things that Crowd Savers does accomplish is driving more people to "like" Walmart in Facebook, and possibly pushing more people to try their e-commerce site. With a few tweaks, this program could be a real winner.