The “Tinderization” of Retail, the Heisman Trophy, and that new set of Winter Tires

A contributing post by Chip Overstreet, VP of Business Development from Affirm.

I read an interesting article the other day in Business Insider about how “Tinderization” is killing online retail. You can read the article here, but the premise is that Tinder – the wildly successful mobile dating app – is changing the way people behave beyond just dating. Tinder encourages people to make “yes-no” decisions very quickly, avoiding the need to go deep on any one aspect in favor of being incessantly adventurous.

With Tinder, you swipe left to reject, and you swipe right to show interest. After each swipe, Tinder presents you with yet another option, leaving you to believe that there’s always something better just around the corner.

This same behavior is now playing out in the increasingly promotional world of ecommerce. Consumers have the option to “swipe” to see what new, shiny object and awesome deal awaits them at the next stop. This one looks good, but what else is out there?

In this grass-may-be-greener environment, how does a retailer effectively convince consumers that they are “the one”, and get them to stop shopping and make the purchase from them?

Which naturally brings us to the Hiesman trophy, right?

A few weeks ago I was on the exercise bike, channel surfing to take my mind off the pain, when I stopped briefly to watch this crazy reality TV show about an election. I quickly found it too bizarre to be believed, so I “swiped” one more time.

Much to my delight, the next channel served up a rerun of the 2016 Rose Bowl. I got there just in time to see the first play of the game, when Christian McCaffrey caught a short pass over the middle and ran straight through the Iowa defense for an amazing touchdown, and then went on to lead Stanford to a decisive victory.

I remember questioning (for the 487th time) how it’s even possible that McCaffrey came in second place in the Heisman voting? But I digress — we can delve into East coast bias in college football another day.

The point is, while channel surfing, I stopped swiping because I came across something compelling enough to get me to “stop the shopping journey” that I was on and “buy now”.

So let’s get back to retail. Yes, “Tinderization” has consumers being more fickle and less brand-loyal, and more likely to jump from site to site. The key question to be answered is, what is it that will get a shopper to end their journey and buy from you?

Turns out the company that employs me (Affirm) offers up the perfect solution to stopping the continuous swipe.

Here’s a real-world example: I live up North where it gets cold in the winter, and the snow is starting to fall. I realize my winter tires won’t make it through another season, and I have an unexpected need to get a new set for our Honda Odyssey (yes, my wife and I caved in early and became a minivan family – convenience over style).

I might start my journey on, and see what an entry level set of winter radials would cost me; it looks like I can get a set of 4 “never heard of these guys” brand for about $360.

But like any inquisitive shopper, and responsible parent, I need to check out the higher quality, name brand options. So I venture over to Goodyear and see that I can get the Ultra Grip GW-2® for $570 a set, or the entry level Goodyear Ultra Grip® for about $460. And just as I’m about to swipe to see what Bridgestone has to offer, I notice the words “as low as $45 per month” right underneath the $460 price tag.

And that’s when the light goes on in my head. I stop the shopping journey, and I buy now from Goodyear. And likely, I end up with the higher quality GW-2 set, because this option is “trusted for use on many police vehicles,” and my family is worth it. And it’s only another eleven bucks a month.

The value proposition is simple: giving consumers the ability to purchase expensive items by splitting payments into easy monthly payments enables them to buy now, to afford the higher quality products that they really want, and importantly, to purchase from you. No more swiping left or right.

Of course, the perfect financing option isn’t the only antidote for consumers swiping to another option in their online shopping journey. But for many online buyers, a simple, honest and predictable payment plan is exactly what the doctor ordered.

And to be fair, an epic college football game won’t stop everyone in their channel-surfing tracks. But for me, it was the ultimate stopping point to get through that early morning workout without feeling a bit of pain.

About the author: Chip Overstreet is the vp of business development for Affirm, Inc. While Chip claims to know something about Tinder, he met his wife the old-fashioned way – at the wedding of a good friend:

For more discussion on the “Tinderization” of Retail, check out the webinar with Affirm on how “Tinder Behavior is Killing Online Retail” at our Conversion Resources.