Over the past several months we’ve been working hard on our beta custom order system. Previously, when a customer had a rug custom made for them, most of the progress and data of the order sat in a system that was only accessible to the artisan team or Anou mentors.
This meant custom order data and its progress had to be sent to artisans as well as the customer, which created more mistakes than we’d like to admit. Our old system pushed the limits of our technical capacity, but times have changed and our tech capacity is improving. Now when you start a custom order on Anou, all major interactions such as receiving a quote, paying for an order, and even shipping all happen directly between the customer and the artisan. Anou’s mentors and artisan team only get involved when there is a problem.
Taking down barriers between artisans and customers
Our favorite new feature is the progress feature. Whenever a custom order starts, artisans now have an easy way to directly submit progress photos and videos to the customer. Artisans can use Whatsapp or a simple browser to seamlessly share photos of their custom work. This wonderful new feature already allowed dozens of our current customers to follow the progress of their custom product in real time !
Since we launched our beta, artisans across the Anou community have sent over 1,400 progress photos to their customers. We’re also testing out fun ways to enable customer and artisan interaction. For example, we introduced a beta feature where customers can send emoji responses for each progress update which are sent directly to the artisan who submitted the progress update. Over 500 emojis have been sent to date directly to the phones of artisans!
Why does this matter?
First, this new feature fully automates the needless labor of all the middlemen you find on Instagram and elsewhere, who serve as a gatekeeper between artisans and their final customers.
Second, it enables artisans to do the work of photographing and sharing themselves. This ensures they learn these valuable digital skills, especially in today’s online commerce landscape. These skills will remain once the order is fulfilled, and are one more step towards artisans’ business independence.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, it enables artisans to create their own unfiltered content. Content that is true to their own vision, and that they can keep and reuse on their own social media accounts and soon, websites. For way too long, morccan craft-related content was made, owned and kept by intermediaries, not artisans. We believe putting artisans in charge of content production is long overdue.
A real life example
Our favorite updates lately have been from Association Tadighoust. The updates feature a mix of progress photos and touching videos of women working and singing traditional songs while making their rugs. Check out all the progress photos on our sample custom order page.
Such spontaneous videos created by artisans themselves, shared directly with their customers who then send emojis of encouragement in return represent a joy that seems to have been missing from craft for some time.
While there is always more work to be done, we couldn’t be more excited to be bringing some joy back into craft !