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Social proof has been an effective growth hack for a long time.

As famed showman PT Barnum said some 150 years ago, “Nothing draws a crowd like a crowd.”

Today, creative social proof can still be a kickass growth hack that drives serious results...

  • LM

    Lincoln Murphy

    over 4 years ago #

    I've had on my todo list for a long time to write about the shopping cart as an early growth hack.

    While this article focuses on the social proof-powered "growth hack" that Sylvan Goldman used to get people to use his newly-invented shopping carts (he was in the grocery store business), the story of why he even built shopping carts in the first place was in itself a Growth Hack, one that stemmed from Sylvan's clearly understanding his customers.

    First, remember that in the early 1900's grocery stores weren't self-service the way they are today, instead relying on clerks to take lists from patrons and gather the goods from the back. While the "modern" self-service grocery store concept was introduced around 1915, they didn't immediately take off with consumers.

    But, the economics of self-service were so much better, that the format really caught on with grocers who rolled them out over the next 15 years in spite of the lack of popularity.

    Now, from what I understand (and keep in mind this was in the 1930's), Goldman saw that women - especially mothers shopping with children - were having trouble with this new self-service model.

    In fact, he saw that they would stop shopping when their hands or shopping basket got full or was too heavy... or if it was simply too awkward to handle with children in-tow. Or he saw that they would actually plan their shopping accordingly and set out from the beginning to buy less.

    So Goldman set out to fix that... and the shopping cart was born (over several iterations; descriptions of his MVP is that it was pretty rough). Ultimately, the shopping cart was a way for shoppers to - at a very basic level - buy more.

    It was a hack to drive up average order value.

    Of course, it was presented in a way that was all about making their shopping experience, if not more pleasant, less burdensome.

    But the shopping cart didn't take off immediately, due to the reasons mentioned in the article, but Goldman knew the power of the shopping cart to drive revenue growth, so he figured out a way to make that happen.

    It included social proof... and the article goes into some detail on that. I won't spoil the story; read the post.

    If you want, you can read more about Sylvan Goldman on Wikipedia... some of what I wrote here is from there, but some is from stories I've read in the past (can't remember where) so take everything I said with that grain of salt. :-) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sylvan_Goldman

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