Inquiry Memorial

In February, 2010, 174 people inquired to one or more vendors on the Inventables Marketplace. Our lead developer, Jeff, pointed out that they were all ignored. In an effort for Inventables to critically evaluate the success of our site, Jeff created an "Inquiry Memorial" in honor of these buyers to express the severity of this issue.

As you can see by the pictures, having this in our conference room was impossible to ignore. So we brainstormed and concluded that there may be several reasons the vendors had not taken action on the inquiries. As a result, we built a new feature that allows vendors to send an anonymous reply to buyers who submit inquiries. This gives the vendors the option to answer general questions, determine whether or not there can be a potential relationship, or respond to the buyer and let them know why the product may not be the best fit for their project. (Read more about this feature here.)

Our goal was to increase our response rate to buyers to 25%. We blew this goal out of the water, hitting 70%. Ironically, at the same time buyers began getting responses from vendors, the "Inquiry Memorial" began falling down off the wall. This change signified a huge shift at Inventables and has greatly increased the communication between buyers and vendors on the marketplace.


fishead said…
Interesting program, and I'm glad it's been successful.

I would like to comment on your current approach to simply providing a search-able database of new and innovative materials. Having used your resources extensively over the years, it strikes me how difficult it is sometimes to make a connection between something that is new and unique, and the potential applications for that material.

As Tom Kelley from IDEO says in his presentation on innovation: "...there are three different levels of understanding:

Things I know

Things I know I don’t know

Things I don’t realize I don’t know

It’s this third area that challenges wisdom..."

Applying this to your current model of identification and discovery, I can search for something based on what I know, and I can infer new searches based on what I know I don't know, but it is impossible for me to search on something I don't realize I don't know, and as a result, I may miss a unique opportunity simply because I am not aware it exists.

What I'm getting to is that I believe your service would be even MORE valuable to the end user, and make even GREATER connections between suppliers and seekers if you put together some kind of regular 'update' on new items as they are added to your library, most effectively as a regular blog update. (I've searched for this within your site, so if it already exists my apologies for not knowing what I don't know.)

I regularly receive rss feeds from a wide variety of sources on a great range of topics, and based on my own research, there really isn't much on New Materials feeds, that is unique and/or helpful. The items your group is able to surface and catalog are fantastic, if only I could be exposed to the new stuff as you get it...
Zach said…
We do have a weekly email that includes a new material. If you send us your email to help at inventables dot com we can get you signed up.

Thanks for the comments.

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