The latest social media/market hybrid getting buzz is Luvocracy – a site that I can best describe as a hybrid between Pinterest and Priceline with a little bit of pyramid scheme thrown in.
I signed up for an account to see what that what was, and even made a purchase in December, so I thought I’d share that info with you, in case you’re curious and are thinking about making a purchase yourself.
First – I don’t find the site super-intuitive. I really had to work to figure out exactly how things operated and what my options were. These are probably growing pains, but it’s really not very self-explanatory at this juncture. Basically, you can “luv” things that you, ummm… well, love I guess. People who follow you will see those things, and can love them too. Thus far it is similar to Pinterest. The difference is that Luvocracy wants you to buy the things through their site, using them as a broker. They will handle the purchase and shipping and even the return, if necessary.
Why do I need someone else to handle those things for me, I wonder to myself? Answer: I really don’t. Luvocracy says that the advantage is that they will seek out the lowest possible price for the buyer, so when you check out you see the highest possible price you could possibly pay, and they may bill you even less than that if they can find the item at a lower price.
Here’s the thing though – how internet illiterate do you have to be to not be able to find the lowest price yourself? Google helps you do that automatically. There are browser plug-ins to direct you to sales and coupon offers and all manner of ways to ensure you’re making a wise purchasing choice. Also, I don’t like the idea of buying something without knowing the actual purchase price. That just seems sketchy.
But when I signed up for Luvocracy I got a $10 credit to use on anything I bought through their service – and right before the holiday they were offering free shipping on everything and no tax. So I took the plunge and ordered something I’d been trying to find on sale anywhere, thinking that if this place could actually find it at a discount, they’d be defeating my own strong Google-fu.
The item I purchased was Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment which retails for $22.50 and, as far as I can tell, never ever goes on sale. I really love the stuff, but I will not pay $22.50 for lip treatment. If Luvocracy had a line on it at a cheaper price, I’d like to have it.
So I took a chance and placed the order. You add the item to your cart, give them your credit card info and shipping details, they tell you the maximum price you’re going to pay, and you finalize your order.
Now, here’s where the site totally falls down – communication. After the order was placed I could not figure out how to check up on it. I got an email confirmation that my order had been placed and then…crickets. Nothing. For a week. There’s nowhere to log on and see your order status, so I had no idea if my item had been shipped or not. About a week after my order was placed I got an unexpected delivery from Sephora, which turned out to be my Fresh Sugar lip treatment. (A few days after I got my product, I got an email that my order had shipped.) So basically all they did was take my info, place an order with Sephora for the item at full price, and then have it sent to me.
Well, I could have done that.
Aside from the $10 credit and the free shipping, which was a one-time deal, there was absolutely no benefit to me from ordering via Luvocracy. They didn’t find a better deal than I did. I missed out on getting Beauty Insider points by letting them place the order, even.
There is also another component to Luvocracy that is somewhat pyramid scheme-ish – which is that if people buy things via the site that you recommended, you get a percentage of that. I am not sure exactly how that works, and if you get cash or if you just get credit on the site. I can see that working out really well for beauty gurus and people who have a ton of followers, but for the common person that’s never going to lead to any significant benefits.
So my basic feel on Luvocracy is “meh.” They’ve attempted to monetize the Pinterest model, but without any real added value to the user, and with a confusing, non-transparent site structure and communication strategy. It will be interesting to see if they make it through a year – they must have deep-pocketed investors at the moment, to offer everyone so much promotional credit and free shipping, but will it be sustainable? I don’t know. Perhaps the site will become better at finding sales that the general public can’t access, which would make it worthwhile shopping there. But for now, for me, it doesn’t seem necessary.