Tough Challenges, Huge Opportunity

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We’ve been working on the below for the last few months and the content here was initially circulated internally but I felt it would be useful for most founders to set similar challenges for their staff.

CuriousCatch.com aims to be the simplest online store for trendsetters to discover everyday designs in Asia. As a Home Shopping Channel for Design, we delight through fanatical customer support and cool video content for the products we sell.

Below are some challenges on how we innovate.

Sourcing: Bringing in well-made and affordable products to our shoppers every day isn’t easy. Sourcing directly from brands and designers may mean higher margins but relationships do take time to nurture. How can we make this vital function more scalable? Can technology change the way we obtain and qualify our leads? Or does this require a strong network effect based on recommendations from guest curators?

User Acquisition & Retention: Our most important metric is our user retention as loyal users means loyal shoppers. Our second most important metric is our viral coefficient, how likely are our shoppers willing to tell their friends about us or their shopping experience? What are some of the cost-effective ways we can reach & acquire users, reward them and convince their friends to join the site? How can we better segment these groups and customised a targeted experience based on the data we have?

Shopping Experience: A strong brand is what differentiates us as we lack the economies of scale a larger competitor enjoys. Most eCommerce sites have stopped innovating, so how can we leapfrog from where others have stopped? How closely can we emulate the best moments of shopping in a physical store? (e.g. anticipating demand) Can design and technology help us serve up a shopping experience that is truly worth sharing?

Content: Our biggest competitor, Fab.com, has been touted as a content company that curates; much like the fashion magazines out there. If video content helps to differentiate us, how do we keep production schedule more efficient so that for every hour we put polishing our videos, we’re getting maximum returns of investment in our sales? Can we produce videos that are inherently viral with a strong Public Relations (PR) angle? If we’re to become the most valuable resource for design in the world, how else can we permeate ourselves in the lives of taste makers? How can we break tradition and produce good content without becoming too tacky?

Customer Support: Fanatical customer support. What does that mean to you? Is it going the extra mile for our customers or it something more? Understanding that we’re here to do our life’s work only because of the continued support of our customers. They want a listening ear and you want your work to add up to something. Something meaningful. Something that wouldn’t happen if you didn’t walk a mile in their shoes first. So, how would you like to be treated as a customer of ours and what would you change?

Logistics Fulfillment: Speed is the only competitive advantage a lean team like ours has against others. Most people shop online because of price but if time of delivery is no longer a barrier, wouldn’t more people shop with us? How can we achieve speed and efficiency while keeping our operations costs low? If there is no suitable Infrastructure-as-a-service (IAAS) to partner up with, can we, within our means, do what they haven’t done better? Can we create the illusion of speed?

Payments & Fraud: With commerce comes fraud and yet we are at the mercy of our payment processors. With deviants from around the world trying to “beat” the system every day and limitations from our payment processors, we’re walking on a thin red line. We have to proactively identify suspicious behavior and quarantine users until additional verification steps can be taken. What are the patterns that we can identify? How do we avoid false positives? How do we allow users to prove their innocence? How do we safeguard the trust others have placed in our brand?

We are seeking talented hackers, designers and hustlers to solve problems like these and hope to hear your input on how to solve some of the problems above.

Send me an email if you know someone ideal to solve tough challenges in a startup environment, I like to begin my hiring process early!

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