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Make Wiki do Retail
September 28, 2009 12:41 PM   Subscribe

How could a wiki be used by a small retail business selling tangible products?

I'm looking for ways to use a wiki in a small retail business to better serve its customers. Looking through example sites of various wiki-species (mediawiki, dokuwiki, etc...) leads to a dry hole of wiki usage in the retail sector.

The only authorized wiki authors/editors would be the shop owner and her staff, with editing locked down to the general internet public. The business sells high-end food ingredients to a niche culinary market, both online and at a brick/mortar store. Principal customers are restaurant chefs and home cooks/foodies.

The business uses its blog for "what's happening/good now" type of stuff and then has static product pages on its site where the details of each product are explained, all linked to the online store. Where does (or does not) a wiki fit in this?

Are there things that a locked-down, but publicly-visible wiki could do that a blog or other non-wiki CMS could not in this application? The business owner is technologically adept, is an active blogger, and is looking for new ways to use technology in a traditional retail setting.
posted by webhund to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
 
I think the wiki could easily replace the static product pages, since interlinking is so easy. However, this could also be done with a blog or CMS package, but the wiki could allow them to extend the amount of information they provide without too much effort (and much more easily than a blog would allow, IMO).
posted by mahke at 12:54 PM on September 28, 2009


Consider that your customers might be frustrated that they can't actually edit the wiki themselves.

Are you just trying to use $coolnewtechnology for the sake of using it? If that's the case, what about some videos? Show people what products you have in and what to do with them. The beauty of a wiki is that it's editable by everyone. Take that away, and you just have an ordinary webpage.
posted by Solomon at 12:54 PM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Are you entirely wedded to keeping it locked down? An open wiki would be a great resource for sharing recipes and food ideas.

Isn't public engagement the whole point of a wiki? If you're not going to use it for that, I don't see what advantage it has over blogging software.
posted by downing street memo at 12:54 PM on September 28, 2009


In my opinion there isn't much point to using a wiki if your plan isn't to include the community in authorship. There is other, better technology for non-collaborative purposes (blogs, static websites, cms, e-commerce tools etc.) Because content in wikis don't have inherent linear structure, it may be frustrating to the people who are creating the content when they try to organize the content in a traditional way.

Where a wiki's strength lies is in building community and collaboration (they work great as public knowledge base centers, a place to work on group projects, etc). They are also extremely useful for facilitating non-traditional navigation structures or to house content that will primarily be searched for rather than drilled-down to.

So my answer to your question is that a wiki is probably not what you're looking for.
posted by Kimberly at 1:09 PM on September 28, 2009


(Or what downing street memo said, much more succinctly. That.)
posted by Kimberly at 1:10 PM on September 28, 2009


In response to the several great responses re. not locking it down for public editing:

I think the owner could be convinced to allow public editing if she can be give examples of how it would help build community and "ownership" by her customers. So, assuming that public editing would be allowed........

[insert creative wiki in retail use cases/ideas here]
posted by webhund at 1:18 PM on September 28, 2009


What does the shop owner want to accomplish? As presented so far, this sounds like a solution in search of a problem.
posted by TruncatedTiller at 1:23 PM on September 28, 2009


The wiki works when you have a group of people who need to collaboratively edit non-hierarchical, non-structured documents. Products are usually in hierarchies (categories) and have structure (prices, different weights/colors/whatever other attributes you might want). If they already have product pages and a blog, the only things the wiki will offer them is a method to edit the product pages through the web and wiki syntax instead of HTML; not much benefit.

Also, no more recipe wikis, please.
posted by beerbajay at 1:46 PM on September 28, 2009


So, assuming that public editing would be allowed........

There's very little use-case for this. The most obvious thing is recipes, but recipes are a clusterfuck on wikis. You could possibly use the wiki discussion pages in place of a question/answer forum, if you have ingredients which are highly technical, but this is pretty marginal and perhaps better served by a real forum.
posted by beerbajay at 1:49 PM on September 28, 2009


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