This blog will look at the concept “Leveraging the long tail”, the seventh of eight patterns as defined by Tim O’Reilly. The internet is like a virtual shopping mall, with a wide range of products for sale. We are beginning to see companies look not just to sale certain products but have a wide range of variety to cater for anyone (a niche market). Businesses are now using the “Long Tail” pattern.
Small sites make up the bulk of the internet’s content; narrow niches make up the bulk of internet’s the possible applications. Therefore: Leverage customer-self service and algorithmic data management to reach out to the entire web, to the edges and not just the center, to the long tail and not just the head. – O’Reilly
The Long Tail, in a nutshell
The theory of the Long Tail is that our culture and economy is increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of “hits” (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve and toward a huge number of niches in the tail. As the costs of production and distribution fall, especially online, there is now less need to lump products and consumers into one-size-fits-all containers. In an era without the constraints of physical shelf space and other bottlenecks of distribution, narrowly-targeted goods and services can be as economically attractive as mainstream fare. – Chris Anderson
So one company that has used this pattern effectively is Apple, the apple iTunes store has a wide range of music,app and books to choose from. By applying this pattern the apple iTunes store has provided benefits such as increase in capturing a wider variety of audience and an increase in customer chose.
Here are best practices that ebay has adopted in relation to practices that Professor Jason Watson’s from QUT pointed out during “Leveraging the long tail” lecture.
(1) Build on the driving forces of the Long Tail
2) Use algorithmic data management to match supply and demand
The iTunes store uses algorithmic data management to match users purchases/searches to recommend apps/music/books users might be interested in.
(3) Use an architecture of participation to match supply and demand
Customers and owners can discuss/share their thoughts on applications on the apps store. For example, reviews can be made through comments on a particular app. Ratings is also a way iTunes store allows customers to look at if the product is worth purchasing.
(4) Leverage customer self-service to cost effectively reach the entire web
This practice has been done by iTunes, users can sign in their account, view their wish list, recommendations etc
However, it would be good it users view other peoples download history, and share what they have downloaded with the iTunes community. This would allow customers to manage their own accounts gives them greater control and information.
(5) Leverage the low-cost advantages of being online
iTunes store has started of by making the right move, making the store an online and not a shelf store. This not only a low-cost advantage but also brings into play online/viral marketing. Many people use iTunes now with the huge growth in smartphone users.
In conclusion, the iTunes store offers many products for the public. They have demonstrated effective use of the 5 practices that helps them Leverage the long tail. Not only to cater for a certain category of customers but a wide niche market.