Web 2.0 Applications

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The following is a list of all entries from the Pattern 7 category.

Pattern 7: Leveraging the Long Tail

Leveraging the Long Tail. Nice title uh? But what does it mean? It means that being online gives you the possibility to sell niche products, without loosing a lot of money. It means that you can, and maybe even should, reach out to the Long Tail, instead of just the head. One of the advantages with being on the web is that you dont have to worry about having enough shelf space and you dont have to worry about being able to pay the rent for your store. With a “normal” store you have to worry about this, and that often makes using the long tail not profitable. We all have seen a lot of niche stores come and go all the time. They just cant get enough customers to be able to justify their budget. This has all changed because of the internets low cost of production and distribution, and because you dont have to think about stuff like shelf space.

Leveragin the Long Tail

Leveraging the Long Tail

You have a lot of examples of online stores that is successful in using the long tail, like Amazon, Netflix and Rhapsody, check out the graphs under:

Example of long tail between Amazon, Netflix and Rhapsody

I am going to talk about interpunk.com. Interpunk is an online punk music store. Louis Posen, the president of the punk and hardcore label Hopeless Records, tells in a blog at Fast Company something interesting about Interpunk vs. Amazon: “Amazon carries every one of our releases, but their sales are modest at best, maybe 3-5 units per week of each title. Go over to interpunk.com, and each title sells 20 units per week, sometimes more. We do presales at interpunk that can reach 600 copies before street date, something we could never achieve on Amazon.” I find this statement very interesting since Amazon is one of the prime examples of companies that use the long tail. Why is it that the punk rockers prefer to use sites like Interpunk instead of the giant Amazon? It hard to say, but both from personal experience and this blog I would say its because of the experience. Hardcore music fans prefer to buy either directly from the artist or at a store that spesializes in music. You feel you get a better releationship with the band, and buying through more spesialized stores than Amazon makes you feel like you are supporting the music environment. I personally always buy from sites like In Flames’ official fanpage or the Norwegian band shirt store Rockshop.

Some of the best practises when you are using the long tail is to stay cheap. You have an advantage with not having as much costs as normal stores, use it! People buy from the internet often because its cheaper, if you are more expensive then they will just go somewhere else. After comparing some prizes with Amazon I noticed that Amazon often is more expensive, that could also be one of the reasons why the buyers prefer Interpunk.

An idea for Interpunk could be to have a rating system, or a system like Amazon has, where you get up suggestions to what you could be interested in from what other fans has bought. At the moment they have a vote for your favorite song system, but it doesnt really help consumers with deciding about wheter they should buy the record or not.