Alternative jewelry for a sustainable beauty

T’Danes is a shop that sells 100% handmade. They make authentic and unique jewelry using a paper mache technique. We were thrilled to meet Diana Berisha-Mahmuti, the owner of T’Danes through the 100% Handcrafted online competition. She talks about passion, business, creativity and awareness – all the ingredients of an artisan’s soul.

The 100% Handcrafted Online Competition is powered by Melltoo, a mobile marketplace that allows artisans and handcrafters to sell on mobile and to share their passion with a larger audience.

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Question 1

Through passion and dedication and lots of love for what I do. Loving your work is the key ‘ingredient’ in order to keep it going and aiming to go far.

Question 2

At times it appears that too much effort has been put on my work and much more on promoting it, which can wear you off, but I was taught that persistence always pays off. Looking forward to that day 🙂 To raise awareness and remind others that handmade and handcrafted work doesn’t result in a material thing only – it is love-coated and ‘sprinkled’ with pieces of artisans soul.

Infography 2

Question 3

To set the goals and never loose the creative mojo, to learn about business plans and get familiar with the needs and demands for my product.

Question 4

Yes, just starting to learn more about m-commerce since living in an Internet-hooked-era it’s another way of getting your stuff done.

Question 5

Being exposed in any way possible is a very valuable matter to any small business and aspiring artisan – Melltoo has possibilities and tools to promote and act as a bridging point, helping the expansion.

Question 6

Appreciate and praise anyone that has whatever skills and desire to make art – that would make you an art-lover and connoisseur as well. The more we are – the happier world would become 😀

Question 7

Keep it real and simple. Life is beautiful!

Vote for T'Danës

Where can we find T’Danës ?

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/Danushe5

ANANASA – Handmade Marketplace: http://www.ananasa.com/stores/tdanes

IDEYNA – Handmade Marketplace: http://www.ideyna.com/shop/crafty-dust.html

http://www.melltoo.com

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Make my shoes dream!

Sarah Bhatti is an Artist based in Dubai who makes custom painted shoes. She finds inspiration in everyday life but also through famous artists like Van Gogh. We were thrilled to meet her through the 100% Handcrafted online competition. She reveals to us in this interview how she creates something different each time, every pair is original and unique.

The 100% Handcrafted Online Competition is powered by Melltoo, a mobile marketplace that allows artisans and handcrafters to sell on mobile and to share their passion with a larger audience.

Question 1

Being an Artist is the best thing that ever happened to me. Since the beginning, I have always enjoyed drawing and painting, but I never thought of becoming an artist and an entrepreneur, i didn’t choose Art but Art chose me.

I tried a lot of handcraft techniques in the beginning, after I set my heart on custom made shoes. I always wanted to work in a different and unique medium; to do something not everyone else was doing… then I came across the idea of making custom painted shoes. So I decided to make my own (and first!) pair of custom shoes, Give it a try and see the response. Much to my surprise, everyone else loved it and orders started to come in.

I believe one should not have restrictions in art and experiment … I am a great believer in custom made work, where I can combine my love for Art and Shoes!.

Bhatti_Sarah_music_painting

Question 2

Just Start. Don’t be scared of failure, in the end at least you tried. Never give up on your dreams. Work Hard, Stay inspired, keep trying New Things and Success will find you.

Question 3

Selling, marketing, photographing the products all by yourself, customer expectations and end result. You’re always at the edge, and you have to be up to the mark all the time. Being an artist, one must continue to innovate and be at one’s creative best to satisfy customers and yourself too… Also to get my customers to believe that my product is 100% durable and washable and all the designs are hand painted. You might get criticized; best thing to do is to take in the criticism to improve yourself but not to bring your morale down… Be open to everything that comes your way… And think positive.

Question 4

Yes. That could be a milestone.

Question 5

I believe Melltoo can give my business more exposure and credibility.

Question 6

Support local and independent Artists and crafters. Buy Hand-made!

Question 7

Never waste your talent, do what you love to do. And Be Creative.

VOTE FOR SARAH'S ART

Where can we find Sarah’s Art?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Sarabhatti.art

Instagram: http://instagram.com/sarahbhattiart

ARTE – Artisans of the Emirates : http://www.arte.ae (ARTE)

The Artisans of the Emirates are based in Dubai and run Art & Craft markets (every 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Friday of every month) featuring exclusive, locally handmade products.

http://www.melltoo.com

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A golden hand in a plastic bottle

Paul Mercer is the founder of Intentions Aromatherapy, products that are produced using organic and paraben free cosmetic bases. We were thrilled to meet him through the 100% Handcrafted online competition. He shares with us in this interview how he created a full range of handmade oils in Dubai for those who want to change their daily routines and to discover something new.

The 100% Handcrafted Online Competition is powered by Melltoo, a mobile marketplace that allows artisans and handcrafters to sell on mobile and to share their passion with a larger audience.

Aramatherapy

Question 1

question 2 paul

Question 3

Montage paul 1-3

Question 4

Question 5

Question 6 paul

Question 7

Vote for Intentions -6

Where can we find Intention?

Website: http://intentionsdubai.weebly.com

Instagram: http://instagram.com/igtgcc

Twitter: https://twitter.com/intentionsdubai

ARTE – Artisans of the Emirates : http://www.arte.ae (ARTE)

The Artisans of the Emirates are based in Dubai and run Art & Craft markets (every 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Friday of every month) featuring exclusive, locally handmade products.

Melltoo: http://www.melltoo.com

http://www.melltoo.com

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Where creativity and tradition meet

Manta & Rebozo is a Mexican initiative that promotes the creative, economic, and social freedom of indigenous artisan women in Mexico. Its mission is to preserve the traditions of dress and accessory making in small villages by creating a for profit trademark that supports the sale of their products under fair trade standards. We were thrilled to meet Manta & Rebozo at 100% Handcrafted online competition. They reveal to us in this interview how they managed to bring colors of Mexico to Dubai.

The 100% Handcrafted Online Competition is powered by Melltoo, a mobile marketplace that allows artisans and handcrafters to sell on mobile and to share their passion with a larger audience.

Question 1

By working hard and being passionate for my dream which is to start my own business, shared with my role as a full-time Mom and helping the needy in my country… all these things together

Question 2

Try and try is the key to success, never give up.

Question 3

Lack of appreciation of the handcraft and the amazing work of the artisan; that it’s not just work, they are expressing their world on their masterpieces.

montage 2 copie

Question 4

Yes we are working on it. Our goal is to share the colors and culture of Mexico with the Middle East.

Question 5

Exposure! Any sort of exposure of work of my amazing artisans is a plus for the artisans.

Question 6

I would just like to explain who we are. Manta & Rebozo celebrates the beauty of Mexican handcrafts by finding harmonic balance between traditional and contemporary. We manage a wide range of products including unique and pretty, baby/children/adult garments, accessories and silver jewellery. All products are made by groups of Mexican artisans who aim at conserving and strengthening their traditional artisan techniques.

Question 7

TRADITIONAL

Vote for Manta and Robozo

Where can we find Manta & Rebozo?

Website : http://www.mantarebozo.com

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/MantaRebozo

From 20th May until 19th June we can find Manta & Rebozo at Dubai Festival City – Mezzanine Level – Ikea side Everyday from 10am to 10pm

http://www.melltoo.com

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The Incredible Crafty Dust

Hana’a Bou Nasr Ltayf is a crafty mom of twin toddlers. She holds degrees in Architecture, Philosophy, History of Art and Business. Before her start-up ‘Crafty Dust’, she had a career in construction and industrial manufacturing. Today she specializes in turning creative craft ideas into professionally designed decorative objects, gifts, and souvenirs. We were thrilled to meet her through a 100% Handcrafted online competition. She reveals to us in this interview how she decided to take her hobby to the next level.

The 100% Handcrafted Online Competition is powered by Melltoo, a mobile marketplace that allows artisans and handcrafters to sell on mobile and to share their passion with a larger audience.

Question 1

I’ve been crafty as far back as I can remember, making greeting cards & surprise gifts for my parents and siblings from scraps of paper, used up tissue rolls and empty match boxes. I owe most of it to my mom’s genes, for she is quite the artist and by far the craftiest person I know.

As an Architecture student I secretly preferred designing objects to designing buildings; and although my professional career took off in construction and industrial manufacturing, I always longed to make things with my hands.

When my children arrived almost 3 years ago, I took a break from work to be a full-time mom. And with the little time I had in between the feeds, the diaper changes, and the night wakings, I thought seriously about starting my own professional crafts business. I had the technical know-how and manufacturing network to make it happen, and working from home provided me with the flexibility to work around my children’s schedule.

So when my children finally started nursery school, I randomly decided to make greeting cards for personal use. Upon suggestion from my brother, who thought my work looked good enough to sell, I did my research on the greeting card industry, sent out some emails with pictures… and to my delight, got my first order from an international bookstore chain within a few days! That was 6 months ago, and that’s how Crafty Dust began – with a purchase order for cards.

Since then, one thing has led to another and my product line is evolving as I continue to experiment, explore, and chase opportunities that come my way.

MelltooMarket crafty dust 2

Question 2

Starting a crafts business doesn’t need a lot of money. It has a low barrier to entry because of the relatively low investment required and anyone can do it from the comfort of their own home. Nowadays there are various online platforms as well as physical markets that facilitate selling handmade crafts. However, things get tricky when you decide you want to increase your sales volume and turn your love for crafts into a registered, serious, full-time business. Unless you have the funds to set up your own shop and are willing to take the risk single-handedly, the better option would be to sell your products through existing retail stores and online platforms that already have the traffic. (Expect to be up against some harsh contract terms if you choose this option). But other ways to make money from crafts do exist: some through teaching, some by selling only the design, and others by publishing articles or books about it. Overall, hard work and hardships are expected like in the starting of any new business no matter what the industry.

Question 3

My first challenge as a Handcrafter is understanding that although the handcrafted design process is a personal one, the end product is to be sold to other people. Therefore it’s really about them and what they need and value; and not so much about what the designer thinks or believes is valuable.

My second challenge is accepting that many products will not sell or gain interest. It may take a while before one may become a success or a best-seller, so until then it’s all trial and error.

My third challenge is to find the right venues with the audience that is willing to buy my creations. Given the diverse population in the UAE, targeting the right community is not always easy.

Question 4

This is the first time such an opportunity has come my way, so I would definitely like to try it out. You never know… M-commerce could become the next best way to sell given how the concept of buying and selling has evolved over the recent years from the physical to the virtual store.

Question 5

I think Melltoo can give my business more exposure and visibility, which is crucial for my start-up.

Question 6

The most interesting and important creations (in any field) I think, are discovered by accident – when trying to do one thing leads to another and you persevere along the way.

Question 7

design mot de la fin-3

‘Thank You’… for your interest and for taking the time to read about me, my thoughts, and my business.

Vote for Crafty DUST-12

Where can we find Crafty Dust ?

Website : http://craftydust.webs.com

Facebook : http://www.facebook.com/craftydust

IDEYNA – Handmade Marketplace : http://www.ideyna.com/shop/crafty-dust.html

ARTE – Artisans of the Emirates : http://www.arte.ae (ARTE)

The Artisans of the Emirates are based in Dubai and run Art & Craft markets (every 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Friday of every month) featuring exclusive, locally handmade products.

And coming soon on Melltoo…

http://www.melltoo.com

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What does she hide in her bag?

Patty Gay is a French/Filipino woman born in the Philippines. She is interested in painting on canvas and porcelain, travel, interior design, cooking and entertaining. She is the creator of DROP-IT Bag Organizer. We were thrilled to meet her through the 100% Handcrafted online competition. She reveals to us in this interview what she dropped in her bag. Here’s the story of how the idea of a handmade bag organizer came about in February 2009.

Patty question 1

Passion! This comes as a result if you engage in something that you genuinely love. Since the beginning I’ve always been very fascinated with colors, forms, texture and the fun of combining these elements to create something that is truly meaningful. The first time I participated in arts and crafts exhibitions was in early 2000, where I sold ‘bits and bobs’ and some random creations, ranging from decorated gift baskets, hand-painted porcelains, jewelry, door signs, etc. In 2009 out of sheer frustration of always forgetting something every time I’d switch bags, I designed and stitched a bag organizer with lots of pockets for my mobile phone, pens, driving license, make-up purse, i-pad, wallet, keys, etc. The organizer went inside my regular handbag and when I’d change bags I simply moved the organizer. It worked! Friends and family loved the idea so I decided to introduce the product at ARTE where it became an instant success. ‘DROP-IT’ became a registered brand in 2010. To this date we continue to create and develop quality products that make sense. For as long as our clients say, ‘it’s a Good Idea’ we know we matter.

Patty question 2

Be original, do not copy. Take inspirations from people you admire and the things that attract you but let your true creative spirit come to life. This is the only way to sustainability. Persevere. It took me years of hard work, trials and errors, before finally coming up with products that made sense to both men and women. Above all, value your clients and fellow artisans. True satisfaction is when you create something and people actually appreciate your work, otherwise you miss the purpose.

Melltoomarket

Patty question 3

As a regular artisan you are pretty much a one-man-show. You are the designer, tailor, merchandiser, accounts, sales person, everything rolled into one! Sometimes it’s hard to switch to ‘production’ when you are on creative mode. Nowadays, markets are saturated with so many ‘weekend jewellery designers’. I am not completely in the jewelry segment so it’s less of a concern for me, however I speak on behalf of talented designers I know who suffer because of the emergence of copy cats. Markets usually take place on weekends. When you have a husband who travels frequently, a daughter who goes to school, you always look forward to spending the weekends relaxing together as a family. If you sign up for 2 markets, that’s 2 weekends gone.

Patty question 4

Yes. This seems to be the way forward.

Patty question 5

Why? Melltoo offers a very smart way of communicating to my clients. Melltoo is helpful for both buyers and sellers. Because it’s mobile phone-base, it’s quick and efficient. My clients can reach me when they need to – anytime, anywhere. It’s simply amazing! It’s like managing my own retail shop. And it’s FREE!

Patty question 6

Keep life balance, it’s the key to happiness.

Patty question 7

As we all know, technology is evolving at an amazing speed and we are living a fast-paced existence. We should find time to take a pause and appreciate the wonderful things around us. It’s easy to get trapped with all the high-tech gadgets and advanced applications but just like most things in life – consume in moderation.

Melltoo

Where can we find Patty ?

Website : http://www.goodideasdubai.com

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/patty.gay109?ref=hl

Melltoo Market : http://www.melltoo.com

Keep calm and type #goodideas on melltoo and you will find Patty’s M-Store

ARTE – Artisans of the Emirates : http://www.arte.ae (ARTE)

The Artisans of the Emirates are based in Dubai and run bi-monthly Art & Craft markets which feature exclusive, locally handmade products.

VOTE FOR PATTY By Liking this page

http://www.melltoo.com

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Mobile Chat:The Ultimate Tool for CRM

Why mobile chat is worth $19 billion? 

When Whatsapp sold for $19 billion, there were collective gasps around the world. Why did Facebook pay so much for glorified SMS, that is neither email nor a voice call? And why are there so many mobile chat applications (Line, Viber, WeChat, Kakao, Kik, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, and on and on); each with so many users? At Melltoo, we’ve always known the power of mobile chat and that’s why we built it into our app.

We believe that our in-app chat combined with our new Melltoo Pay&Ship Secure service (which allows us to handle payment and delivery on your behalf) makes for a very powerful shopping experience. But why is that? Mobile chat is not simply the ugly stepchild of email and voice calls; nor the cheap step-sister of SMS. It is the Cinderella of modern day communications; a whole new way of communicating, a singularity if you will. With chat, you combine the benefits of asynchronous written communication with that of synchronous voice communication.

Mobile chat puts SMS, emails, and voice calls to shame

Chat can take place “live” like a voice call; this allows for banter and quick back and fortemoticons_melltooh communication that effectively conveys meaning. Chat can also take place “offline”; parties don’t engage in real-time, but receive and respond to messages after some time has passed. This makes chat better than both emails and voice calls. Can you have an instant live conversation over email? Good luck looking through the tabs to figure out what was said previously. On the flip side, if you miss a call, can you answer it 2 hours later?

Mobile chat is much more than glorified SMS. Emoticons help convey the “body language” that is missing from written communications. (where’s the “thumbs up” emoticon when I need it?) The ability to send photos and videos makes communication “social”. You can share moments of your life in real-time. Unlike posting a picture to Facebook and getting ‘likes’ hours or days later, sending a picture via chat garners “awwww…that’s so cute!” responses instantly.

Mobile chat builds stronger relationships

Mobile chat is with you everywhere you go. You are never offline which means that you are always “close by”, just a message away. And even when you don’t respond, the other party knows that you will see the message eventually. The connection with your chat interlocutors is perpetual, which means you are closer to your chat friends than people you see in real life. Think about the co-worker who you see daily. Compare her with your ex-co-worker who you haven’t seen in years, but chat with regularly. Who do you feel closer to?

Chat is “low cost” not only financially, but mentally and emotionally as well. SMS costs an arm and a leg. Writing an email requires “Dear” and “Best regards” along with proof-reading and formatting. Making a phone call requires you to stop whatever else you’re doing. Chat, on the other hand, is low overhead. It’s (almost) free, and doesn’t require deep thought nor undivided attention. The quick and constant banter allows users to build up stronger relationships than would take place without chat. You can correct misunderstandings, elaborate, yell, thank, gush, and apologize; all in one conversation spanning just minutes. You also have the ability to re-read before sending, unlike saying something that cannot be unsaid. And you have the benefit of a chat history to revisit a conversation when necessary.

Chat for CRM (Customer Relationship Management)

The benefits of chat in a social setting are easily carried over to a business setting. Chat is the ultimate tool for customer relationship management.

Never miss a customer’s call

Gone are the days when customers would patiently wait on hold for service. These days, they won’t call to begin with, they’ll go straight to Twitter or Facebook because calling is just too high in overhead. Hence, when a customer’s call is not answered, you’ve lost the customer; because he called your competitor when he wasn’t able to reach you. Only a highly motivated customer would call back. With chat, even if you weswitchboard operator_melltoore not online when the customer sent the message, once you see the message, you can re-engage with the customer who might have all but abandoned. Think about it: how many phone calls can you answer at the same time? Now think about how many chat conversations you can have at the same time.

By the way, people are less upset when a chat response is delayed than when a phone call goes unanswered. This is because they had to make time to call you, setting aside existing tasks. With chat however, they didn’t have to invest much effort and the “internet down” excuse is still valid today. Interestingly enough, before I call someone, I usually send a chat message first asking if she’s available to talk on the phone. And after I’ve sent an email, I inevitably follow up by sending a chat message telling the receiving party to check his email.
Keep track of customer requests

If you are a salesperson dealing with multiple customers throughout the day, one of the greatest challenges is to keep track of who said what. With chat, all that is said can be retrieved from your chat history. Your own words are also recorded, which means less chance of error and misunderstanding. Ever “accidentally” quote someone a higher price than what was previously quoted?

Know exactly what customers want

A picture is worth a thousand words. A video is worth a million. And chat is worth $19B! Imagine you are a wedding planner at your florist, about to order table centerpieces for a client. This client happens to see a bouquet centerpiece that she’s decided she absolutely must have for her wedding. She snaps a picture and sends it to you instantly. You adjust your order accordingly and it’s done. Imagine the same scenario over the phone or via email. Your client probably wouldn’t have been able to properly describe what she saw and if she had sent an email with a photo attachment, you would have seen it only after ordering the centerpieces.

Build Human Relationships

Chat is familiar and comfortable. It puts people at ease as much as face-to-face communications make people uncomfortable (is there spinach in my teeth?). This means that in a relatively short time, sales people can establish a stronger relationship with customers; and relationships are what bring customers back.If you are not already using mobile chat for CRM, then you’d better start. At Melltoo, we are so convinced by mobile chat that we built it into our app. Not only can you buy and sell quickly and socially on Melltoo, it’s built upon the most engaging technology of today–mobile chat!

Why the Web Giants Can’t Go Mobile-First

As a mobile startup with an impressive web-based competitor who’s been around and has deep deep pockets, we get asked this question a lot: “Can’t XXYYZZ  build your app in 12 days?” When we explain Melltoo‘s value proposition as a mobile first social selling platform with a payment and delivery service and a built-in chat function, people understand how we are different from our web-based competitor. They immediately recognize that we have a compelling value proposition. However, they always come back to: “They have tons of engineers, I’m sure they can build the same app in a month.” Then we show them Melltoo, and they inevitably go “WOW” but nevertheless say: “It’s an amazing app, but XXYYZZ has loads of cash, they can do what you did and CRUSH you.” Well no. They can’t and let me tell you why.

1) Mobile First, Mobile Only

In Fall 2012, Facebook launched it’s native mobile app for iOS and Android and declared itself to be a mobile-first company . This was after a “painful” (Mark’s words) 18-month transition for one of the world’s largest web companies. Why was it painful? Because the mobile experience is totally different from the web. And if you are used to building for the web first, while your mobile app plays catch up, then your mobile experience will always be sub-optimized and limited. There are certain things that the mobile can do that the web can’t, such as geolocalization, pulling from the camera hardware, and push notifications for starters. So if you’re building for the web first, you will neglect these oh-so-important mobile-only features, which means your user experience will be sub par.

2) The Amputation Problem

In order to become a mobile-first platform, you’ll have to greatly streamline and simplify your web experience in order to maintain consistency across services and platforms. Just this March, Paypal rolled out it’s new “mobile-first” website which fronts a major overhaul of Paypal services to enable and enhance mobile transactions. The point here is that the move to mobile is not simply about building a front-end app. It’s also about what’s going on in the backend; and in some cases, the move to mobile affects the product offering at its core.

3) Organizational Misbehavior

Let’s suppose that the big web incumbent has an enlightened CEO like Mark (Facebook) or David (Paypal), who recognizes that it’s time to go mobile-first. Then, there’s the rest of the organization to contend with. Large successful companies are run by large numbers of people who require bureaucratic processes to work together effectively. Forgetting brainstorming on Slack, like we do at Melltoo. Bureaucratic processes are by definition slow and that’s why large companies move slowly. Once our enlightened CEO figures out it’s time to go mobile, she has to coax her board of directors and clue in all her senior management. Then, after much back and forth, strategy is hammered out across departments and implementation plans are drawn up. New bureaucratic processes need to be introduced at this point to manage change and reduce risk. Finally, the little worker Joes, on whose backs the company runs, need to be retrained and realigned. The whole organization needs to be restructured to tame the misbehaving beast.

4)The Hiring Nightmare

The average non-coder seems to think that if you can build a “hello world” program on javascript, then you must be able to build an app. The reality is a bit more complex. To build a good app, you not only need an experienced front-end app coder, you also need a UI/UX expert, a backend database coder, a backend administrative web services coder, a project manager, and the officeboy who serves coffee and brings donuts. And if you are a big, successful company, then you’ll need two of everyone because you have an image to protect in order to win the “Employer of the Year” award. And no, you can’t just get your existing engineers to do the job. Firstly, they may not have the expertise. Secondly, who’s going to do their current job? So you have no choice but to hire and we know how that nightmare goes.

A Dollar Now is Better than Two in the Future (no matter how near)

Suppose you are the web-based incumbent that is making tons of money with your website. Melltoo shows up on the scene, a startup with 6 (at last count) team members and some VC funding. Melltoo hints at a future of unrealized potential. You sense that Melltoo could be disruptive, the keyword here being could. Would you at this point overhaul your entire business model and take your organization through a painful transition in order to respond to the little startup nobody has heard of? I think not. And your board of directors is unlikely to go for it. Which means you won’t move until Melltoo has 50 on the team and a Series B under its belt. Then the battle begins, and may the most innovative company win!

The Future of M-Commerce 3.0: The #Hashtag for Buying and Selling

The #Hashtag is to Social Networks What Search is to the Web

What would the web be like without search? You would open a web browser but wouldn’t know where to go. You would have to find out about interesting websites from offline sources (billboards!) and carefully type URLs into the address bar in order to access the website. You wouldn’t be able to find anything without knowing where it was to begin with. This is what social media would be like without #hashtags. The #hashtag, made mainstream by Twitter, is a way for users to find conversations, communities and shared interests on social media. Social media has become a crowded place and it can be very lonely if you can’t find others who want to talk about the same things.

#Conversation at parties and events

Imagine being in a crowded party and trying to find a huddle that’s having an interesting conversation. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a speech balloon above each huddle that contained “#ConversationTopic”? That would save you having to introduce yourself only to have to excuse yourself a minute later because the conversation is boring. That’s why #hashtags are useful for social media. With all the content to wade through, searching by hashtag is a quick and easy way to find topics and communities of interest. #Hashtagging your content is also an efficient way to insert yourself into a conversation or community. It makes the world of social media smaller and a lot more relevant, in the same way a neighborhood is to a city.

The #hashtag for social marketplaces

Online classifieds are huge places that people easily get lost in. Even though these are consumer-to-consumer buying and selling networks, they function as a directory service rather than a social network. At Melltoo, we have built a mobile social marketplace where the #hashtag plays an important role. At Melltoo, we know that social networks and marketplaces are big and messy places, so we use the #hashtag to organize our social marketplace. By attaching a simple #hashtag to your item name, you can identify your item as part of a store, a community, an event, and even a cause.

Hashtag Search iphone

How does it work?  

1. #m-store

If you are a small business, Melltoo offers you an opportunity to have a mobile store or mobile catalog simply with #YourStoreName. Why spend money on print brochures that are in the trash almost as soon as the customer walks out the door? What would you pay to have your catalog in your customer’s hand whenever he wants it? A catalog that updates constantly. And by the way, did you know that experts predict that by 2015, mobile will be the primary way to shop online? Here’s your opportunity to get ahead of the retail giants who are struggling to get themselves on mobile.

2. #CommunityGroup

Would you prefer to buy something used from a complete stranger or from someone in a shared community (residential community, college or school, book club, ethnic association, homeschoolers group, etc)? Imagine you are a college student and that you go to class daily (like good students do). Wouldn’t it be great to buy a used textbook from another student and pick it up on the way to class? The alternative is to buy it from a complete stranger and drive halfway across town to get it. By adding #CommunityGroup next to your item name, a quick search for this hashtag will display all items for sale in this community.

3. #LiveEvent

On any given weekend in Dubai, there are a multitude of live market events taking place in You can use #LiveEvent to identify your item for sale at a live event. the city. These events typically boast 50-100 different vendors in one place. As a visitor, you can easily get lost and miss out on items and vendors that you might otherwise be interested in. Wouldn’t it be convenient if you could search for items on sale right from your mobile as you are walking past the stands at the event? This is now possible on Melltoo. By grouping items for sale under #LiveEvent, attendees can browse through items for sale before arriving, at the event, and after leaving. If you still have stuff left over, you can share your Melltoo posts with friends on social media, so they know what’s still available. If you’re friends spot something they like, they can pay for it in-app and we’ll deliver  it straight to their front door for you!

4. #SocialCause

Charity sales are a great way to raise money for a cause. However, these tend to be tied to a physical event and are therefore geographically constrained. What if you want to conduct a charity sale that has no physical boundaries? You can do this on Melltoo. Get participants to use the hashtag #SocialCause identify items they want to include in your sale. In this way, buyers who want to support the cause can search for items under this hashtag when shopping, wherever they may be. It also gives organizers an easy way to keep track of seller participation and gauge proceeds from the sale.

Conclusion

The #hashtag is a simple, yet versatile tool that users can manipulate to organize buying and selling on Melltoo. Users have probably come up with ways to use it that we don’t even know about. E-commerce 2.0 was all about bringing stores online so that shopping became easier and more convenient. However, m-commerce 3.0 is all about user experience and creating a shopping experience that is engaging and social. The #hashtag allows users to engage in buying and selling on their own terms, in ways that can only be done on a social network built on buying and selling. Welcome to m-commerce 3.0. #melltoo

The Instagram Shopping Experience Explained

What in the world is the Instagram shopping experience?

Have you heard of Instagram shopping? If you were born before 1985, chances are you’ve probably never heard of it. Instagram shopping is a phenomenon that’s taking the world of under 30s by storm. And this is particularly so in the developing world, a huge hit in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. But isn’t Instagram a photo-sharing app? (Yes.) Did they pivot to become an m-commerce app? (No.) Instagram is a social network based on photo-sharing. They don’t offer an m-commerce platform. So what exactly is Instagram shopping?

The Explanation

Instagram shopping experience is the fine art of ‘discovering’ beautiful and ‘exclusive’ items for sale by other users of Instagram. It is based on the #hashtag system, which originated on Twitter, but now is ce-commerce_report_bangkok_startup_04ommonplace across social networks. Shoppers begin by searching certain hashtags, such as #dubaifashion. The infamous Instagram wall displays all publicly shared photos tagged with this hashtag. The majority of these are personal photos by individuals; but mixed in are photos that showcase a certain brand (Instagram marketing) and photos of items that people have posted for sale (Instagram shopping). Interested users can take a closer look at these product photos, ‘like’ the photos and ‘comment’ on the photos. If users wish to purchase, the next step is to contact the seller who posted the photo, typically through Whatsapp (Whatsapp numbers are posted on seller profile pages). Finally, goods and money are exchanged either in person or through courier service. That’s it in a nutshell. So what’s the big deal? What does Instagram shopping offer that traditional e-commerce doesn’t?

Answer: The Web 3.0 Experience

Mobile-first, mobile-only

First off, Instagram shopping is mobile-first and mobile-only. If you don’t know the difference between m-commerce and eCommerce, then you should read this. Instead of going shopping, shopping goes with you. A mobile-first, mobile-only platform means that users are always online. Unlike the computer, you don’t really log-out of anything on a smartphone. This means that users of a mobile-only platform are always connected. This is what makes mobile social interaction so engaging. It’s always on. Visually-pleasing Users today EXPECT a visually-pleasing experience. Instagram shopping is a visually-pleasing experience. As opposed to traditional e-commerce photographs that showcase products functionally (think amazon.com, souq.com, gap.com etc), Instagram product photos are whimsical, exotic, glamourous (think magazine photo shoot). Instagram product photos (not all, but the good ones) are content themselves, not a means to an end. On the other hand, traditional e-commerce product photos are a means to get buyers to click “add to shopping cart”. Instagram shopping is true “online window shopping”, because browsing Instagram product photos is enjoyable in and of itself.

The process of discovery

Instagram shoppers don’t typically go to any one “Instagram store” when shopping. The shopplist-item-for-saleing is an incidental occurrence of browsing photos grouped by a certain hashtag. For instance, I just searched for #Cairo and a wall of photos was displayed. The one that caught my eye was a picture of rows of yummy-looking cupcakes. I tapped on the photo and discovered that it was put up by “The #1 gourmet bakery in Egypt”. They have a whole wall of photos of colorful and delectable pastries that can be made to order. This process of discovery is what keeps Instagram shoppers coming back. Firstly, you never know what you are going to find, so there’s the thrill of the hunt. And secondly, there is a sense of exclusivity because the products aren’t always easy to find.

Social interaction

Instagram is after all a social network built on photo-sharing, so social interaction is a key component of the Instagram shopping experience. Here the ‘like’ and ‘comment’ features are what engages users. Buyers can see how many other users liked a particular item which triggers a “keeping up with the Jones” complex. They can also see what others are saying about the item and engage in the public conversation as well. When new comments are made, they get a push notification on their phone which keeps them coming back to the item. They can also share the item to other social networks and hopefully get their friends to engage as well.

The Problems with Instagram Shopping

So now you know what makes the Instagram shopping experience different from traditional e-commerce. And you might well be toying with the idea of becoming an Instagram seller. However, while Instagram is a great tool for socializing and marketing a brand, it really isn’t built for m-commerce and actual selling.

Problem 1: Keeping track of product listings/catalog, and finding specific items

Each user’s Instagram wall is just a bunch of photos listed in backward chronological order, with the latest photos posted first. Photos have captions that are searchable only by hashtags. As a seller, you can’t maintain a proper catalog because you can’t name items and there really isn’t a consistent place to put a price. As a buyer who isn’t in “discovery mode”, if you are looking for a specific item, it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Problem 2: Keeping track of buyers and sellers

Buyers can search for sellers by username (if they know it) and retrieve seller info if they’ve “followed” a particular seller. Sellers can do the same with buyers. However, the complexity arises when users begin to follow a large number (hundreds or even thousands) of other users. At this point, it’s nearly impossible to figure out which seller was selling that particular item you wanted to buy without having to go through each user profile one by one. The same problem exists on the seller’s side: how to track down the interested/repeat buyer to offer a discount?

Problem 3: Communications and Logisitics

Instagram does not offer any private communication tools beside the direct photo-sharing feature. So sellers encourage buyers to contact them on mobile messaging apps like whatsapp. A typical conversation goes like this…

Buyer: “Hi, I saw your item on Instagram.”

Seller: “Which one?”

Buyer: “The shoes.”

Seller: “Which shoes?”

Buyer: “The sandals with the gold trim.”

Seller: “You mean the flats or the heels?”

You get the idea. More time is spent going back and forth trying to figure out which item is at stake than time spent on buying and selling. Can you only imagine if the buyer wanted to purchase several items at the same time?

The Future of m-commerce: Melltoo

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The Instagram shopping experience provides the blueprint for the m-commerce experience of the future. It is unlikely that the under 30s of today will continue to be satisfied with the current shopping experience offered by e-retailers. And yet Instagram is not optimized as a shopping platform. Melltoo was built to fill this gap. Melltoo is a mobile app that offers the Instagram-shopping experience with whatsapp built-in. Melltoo has reproduced the Instagram shopping experience by being mobile-first/only, visually-pleasing and by enhancing the process of discovery and social interaction. Melltoo also goes a step further to address the problems with Instagram shopping by providing a beautiful and intuitive interface to keep track of product listings, find specific items quickly and easily, and keep track of buyers and sellers. Melltoo also has a built-in private chat for ultimate social engagement, in-app payment AND delivery. Say goodbye to e-commerce 2.0. Welcome to m-commerce 3.0.