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Indie Retailer Moxsie Lets Twitter Fans Be the Buyer (And Switched Readers Score, Too!)

Moxsie
Don't call it crowd-sourcing. It isn't quite that. It's not exactly social networking either, though the idea behind Moxsie's newest initiative does harness the large-scale power of Twitter and the populace voting capacity of groupthink. Moxsie, the Web retailer just shy of a two-year anniversary, features what CEO Jon Fahrner calls "under-sold, cutting edge" designers, looking for a Web space to display their sartorial offerings. Brands like 80%20, Kelsi Dagger and Tulle receive lovingly produced pages, with their brand story, country of origin and popular pieces featured front and center. And in order for the designers, which Moxsie carefully chooses (must be emerging, not too expensive), to put their best gear forward, the site turns to Twitter.

"I don't care how good of a buyer you are, you can't do the research of 100,000 people on the frontline," Fahrner says, talking about Moxsie's hefty Twitter adherents. "Which is why we engage in 'open merchandising.'" Instead of crowd-sourcing and letting a blind group of anonymous Web surfers cast their group, the Moxsie crew has dreamt up something called #buyerchat, which allows Moxsie followers to directly critique and suggest thoughts on the clothing and accessories they most like to buy. Facilitated by Moxsie buyers, Twitter users and actual individuals making crucial choices -- between colors, straps, sizes and what Fahrner calls sentiment -- get to talk shop. In fact, one of Moxsie's best brands, an on-trend, leather-and-heels shoe company called Matiko, launched a third color of a shoe that the watching public craved. "Suddenly," Fahrner says, "designers are receiving extraordinary feedback based on what's really relevant to the buyer."
Fahrner knows, with a strong background in merchandising, that nothing of good quality comes for free. So, in order to encourage his Twitter public to be the best commenters they can be, he had the Moxsie team hatch an incentive scheme. Participating in the #buyerchat nets the public badges, which can be transferred into titles, and then siphoned into very real world benefits, as well as a site-wide, bragging-friendly leaderboard of badge holders. During the #buyerchat, Twitter users comment on behind-the-scenes images from photo shoots and trade shows. Simply by participating, they'll grab a badge (like Foursquare), and the best ideas will "win" the chat (not like Foursquare). The winner, or high-ranking badge members, get real live credit to shop the site. "We have really extensive ideas for the tiers," Fahrner explains, "Which rank from in-training to internships, to real, resume-worthy buyer titles." The idea, then, is that a blogger or fashionista can potentially get merchandising and buying experience, if she is committed to contributing worthy ideas. This, he hopes, allows interested parties to control the outcome. "The analogy is bad, but it's a bit like sports betting, except it takes an eye for fashion," he says.

Although the service is currently limited to Twitter, Fahrner has larger ideas. While badges can be shared on Facebook, he enigmatically suggested that there is a lot in the works; reviews, Facebook and even trend-spotting are hopefully going to be brought into the "open-merchandising" system. Moxsie's main goal is to eventually break down the boundaries defining retail, forcing the shop, designer and customer to all begin to listen to one another.

The Buyer Chat and badge program launches today with an emphasis on holiday stocking stuffers, like Urban Ears or the blog-fodder Clocky and Tocky. Hop onto Twitter at 2:30 EST, follow the hashtag #buyerchat, and tell Moxsie buyers what you really think of the items they'll be thinking about purchasing, and then featuring, on the site. Of course, this power-to-the-people experiment will only work if a good portion of Moxsie's 115,000 Twitter followers get in on the fun, and the buyers truly listen to their tweeps. But the idea of social networking acumen translating into real world goods (and, heck, into something that is actually resume-worthy) is an exciting one, especially for the Web-enabled (and vocal) fashion crowd. Not to mention what this might mean for the hardworking, indie designers that use Moxsie as a central retail location.

Join the chat, or, if this whole badge-and-buyer thing is a little too intensive, Moxsie has offered Switched.com readers a 15-percent off code. Finish up any last minute Christmas shopping with a sweet, hardcover iPhone case ($35), the Nanda Clocky Alarm Clock ($40), an Arkitip graffiti-inspired laptop case ($60), the high-tech Brig Tide and Train Watch from Vestal ($140), or, of course, straight off of our 70 under $70, Eskuche's 33 and 1/3 Rosegold headphones ($65). Remember, it's all 15-percent off with the code SWITCHED15, and, if you like what you see, jump on Twitter and let your voice be heard.

Tags: badgeville, buyer chat, BuyerChat, CrowdSource, crowdsourcing, merchandising, moxsie, top, twitter