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Crowdsourcing Generated Content in the Retail Industry

By 3p Contributor

As a result of the increasing importance of the digital world, the retail industry must adjust its marketing and distribution measures to meet the challenge.  The number of consumers who buy goods on the Internet has rapidly increased in the past few years. The main questions remaining are how to reach the well informed, digitally networked consumers and how to win them over.

A retailer's online success depends on several factors. Some important ones are:

  • a variety of simple yet secure payment options

  • smartphone friendly online portals and shops

  • adaptation and reaction to IT developments, trends, new devices and the related consumer behavior

  • smooth synchronization of online and offline sales channels

  • use of social networks and blogs

  • accurate, current information related to the products offered

  • consumer integration to receive feedback, to get opinions and to provide information that appeals to and reaches the users

  • search engine optimized web content

Employing moderate resources, the use of crowdsourcing as a business tool for retailers is particularly useful for the optimal implementation of the last three factors listed.

The term "crowdsourcingis a word combination that comes from crowd and outsourcing. Tasks and projects are delegated to the work force and intelligence of a "crowd" of Internet users. Internet users who do "paid crowdsourcing" are paid for their work.

Paid crowdsourcing for the retail trade

Providers of professional crowdsourcing solutions offer services especially adapted to meet the demands of retailers. Examples are text creation, translations, categorization and tagging, as well as surveys, which supply online shops with informative and continually updated content.

The crowd consists of Internet users over 18 years of age with varied interests, skills, expertise, consumer behavior, cultural and social backgrounds. They are therefore consumers like you and me. Consumers who are potential retail trade customers and who know what interests appeal to them better than anyone else. Who or what could be better suited to generate relevant content for retail trade websites than the crowd?

For the most part, crowdsourcing providers have a network comprised of thousands of clickworkers, freelancers registered with the provider. They process orders and individual customer requests. The orders are completed by means of the microjob principle. Large orders are broken down into self-contained microjobs and offered to qualified clickworkers for processing on the online platform. This means that a number of microjobs are processed simultaneously, and the orders are completed in a short time. After completion, the microjobs are subjected to stringent quality and plagiarism checks and then reassembled as a whole.

What crowdsourcing can accomplish

The opportunities and options crowdsourcing offers are diverse.  The following list only represents a small number of possibilities, and the retailing needs for which they are best suited.

Search machine optimized texts in various languages

  • Product descriptions

  • Editorials and professional texts

  • Sales and marketing texts

  • Help texts

  • Instructions for computer and video games

  • Software descriptions

  • Reviews and travel reports

  • Glossary texts

  • Editorial blog articles

  • Teaser texts for content management systems

  • Meta data for your on-site optimization

  • Online advertizing texts

  • Reworking and optimization of existing texts


  • Translations of all kinds of texts

Tagging and categorization

  • Categorization of products

  • Categorization of archive data

  • Tagging of articles

  • Tagging of images and videos

  • Synonyms for search requests

  • Electronic marking of elements on images and photos

Surveys and tests

  • Classical marketing surveys

  • Opinion and feedback surveys

  • Testing websites

  • Testing online services, software or products

Depending on the requirements, clickworkers can be divided into different target groups. For instance, they can be selected according to place of residence, age, gender, interests or professional knowledge. This is especially suited to surveys, but is often relevant in creating professional texts.

The uses of the crowdsourcing platforms are almost unlimited. Any retailer can consider how the benefits of crowdsourcing can be used to meet their own demands and realize their ideas. For instance, in search assignments for the retail industry, the clickworker searches for manufacturing data and information about competitors, as well as address data for distribution online.

image: James Cridland via Flickr cc (some rights reserved)

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