The launch of new Levi’s social shopping site recently is just one of a new breed social commerce platforms that are signaling the fact that ecommerce and social media have begun to converge into a very real and meaningful way for brands and consumers alike.
In essence social media has transformed e-commerce by changing people’s expectations and as a result shoppers now expect social features to help them make smart choices.
It is a call that has not been lost on Facebook who in the last 12 months have been slowly going down this road with the signing of an agreement with PayPal to enable a secure online payments and the launch of the shop front application which has allowed brands like Style Q and 1800-flowers a platform to not only sell physical goods bit to take advantage of the rising tide of virtual goods as well.
With the Levis site the integration of the new facebook like feature enables users to see the number of people on facebook who like the item and then cast your own vote. On individual product pages it also generates pictures of your friends who like an item .The site extends the facebook connect integration out to create a “friends store” which essentially customises the whole experience around your friend base experience!
Whilst incorporating social media features is nothing new to the likes of E-bay and Amazon, it is the most recent innovations in social technologies that are playing a key role in social commerce typified by Zugara’s augmented reality 'social shopping app'. The combination of Augmented Reality and Motion Capture allows you to “virtually” shop online and seamlessly connect with facebook to post photos of you wearing the latest dress or shirt and get your friends to comment live before you buy.
Blippy is a new social networking site which automatically publishes everything a user buys with a credit card to a short, Twitter-like feed for all to see .The online privacy nerds would have kittens over this one but the fact remains there is a whole generation of internet users that find it perfectly normal to personal information online. . As the slogan reads “blippy is a fun way to see and discuss what everyone else is buying”.
Thisnext.com takes social shopping concept to another level by using the wisdom of crowds to allow users communicate and aggregate information about products prices and deals and of course to shop for their favorite brands and to discover new ones.
Indeed the combination of merging social networking and ecommerce to purchase is also the premise behind the Soft City site which is based around computer software. Indeed there are a lot of successful social networking platforms in the tech sector and Soft City at first sight seems no different as It allows developers, users and experts to interact in a community.This is all done via the Soft City Cafe that provides knowledge, expertise, and resources as well as a chance to earn Soft Dollars, a virtual currency, to use in the Soft City Marketplace.
Not to be left in the Dark Google launched its product review program at the recent 2010 social Commerce Summit that will have search agencies frothing at the gills as it in helps companies and brands alike leverage their high-quality user reviews and ratings to attract more customers, by surfacing this content wherever it’s relevant for shoppers on Google. This is also including search results and advertising programs so the consumer can make an informed choice.
Also speaking at the Summit Mitch Joel from Twist image offered up the interesting perspective that we need to reboot digital marketing in order to build new digital platforms with social features that allow us to 1) promote real communication between real people (not brand-pap) 2) market to people who want to be marketed to (brand/category fans)), and 3) help those people to market to each other.
The new breed of emerging social commerce platform has begun this process and with online retail sales in Australia worth $18 billion there has never been a better time to start this process for your own company.
My top ten Social commerce platforms (in no particular order)
1. Soft city
3. Levis store
5. Style Q
6. Best buy
8. Mattell (shop together features)
10. Wine library
What are yours?
Is there anything you’d add to the above debate ? Anything you disagree with?
I'd love to hear from you