How will widgets be received when they go mainstream?

August 6, 2007

Digital Marketing ChannelAdvisor By ChannelAdvisor

I just read an article over at E-Commerce Guide entitled, “Widgets Offer Viral Marketing and Affiliate Revenue,” which takes the tone of introducing some newfangled technology called “widgets” to the masses.

It’s anecdotal, but I think it’s proof that both the concept and firm adoption of widgets hasn’t really hit, and could be far off.  As a Jupiter Media property, I thought it’d be more on top of the trend.  Granted, the material is targeted at small eBay sellers…but still.  This wasn’t hard to see.

To shift away from a critique of E-Commerce Guide, I’m still amazed at how little sellers seem to be aware of this trend.  Even if they are, they’re reluctant to adopt because they don’t really know how to capitalize on it.

Here’s what I envision: as SMBs seek to “graduate” from eBay and empower their sales through CSEs and beef up their own properties, they’ll naturally try and heighten the value, distribution and appeal of not only their products, but their brand.

This much is obvious — but what I believe the future holds is one where widgets are so commonplace that we cease thinking about them as widgets.  They will be completely natural extensions of a site, a brand and more — and be incredibly more powerful than simply a list of popular searches or price trends.

A widget will become the ultimate window into how we visualize shopping experiences.  They’re going to be where CSE 3.0 will be — hyper-personalized, simple, straightforward, social and fun.  Think “push” instead of “pull,” and, in some cases, indirectly related to buying things.

Look at Facebook’s Platform today: while an extremely early example of what a widget platform will be, e-commerce applications are struggling to take off.

This is where people hang out online.  They don’t want sale offers or price drop notifications thrown in their face.  Instead, they want to have fun, they want to socialize and keep tabs on how their valued relationships are being shaped and grown.

The online retailer that understands and executes on this first will win the widget wars.

For an SMB to succeed in this “brave new world” and capture the attention of “net natives,” they must invest time, money and personnel in understanding these new approaches.  They’ll need people who speak the language, program the language, and live in these worlds.

Written by Scott Hurff — scott.hurff at channeladvisor dot commm