Social Commerce: Never Shop Alone Again

Social media is all about sharing. Sharing news, sharing photos, and sharing what you ate for breakfast. Recently there has been a huge growth in social commerce websites, e-blasts, and mobile applications which allow you to share what you want to buy, where you are going to buy it, and why you think others should buy it too (or buy it for you). If you are terrible at making decisions by yourself (guilty), you can now breathe a sigh of relief. The growth of social commerce is a natural development as marketers continually search for new ways to take advantage of various social media networks to advertise products and services. So… who is getting it right?

#474343; font-size: 1.8em; font-weight: bold;">Wishpot

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While there are many social commerce websites out there, Wishpot seems to have encompassed the broadest set of helpful features and the most opportunities for marketers in terms of social sharing. Users can create wish list of items they want to purchase and “pick lists” of items they recommend to their friends. Users can add items to their wish list from anywhere on the web using a “Wishpot Button” that lives on their browser. The wish lists can be shared through social media networks making gift giving and product recommendations easy and efficient. Brands can also add their products to the site’s search database and link to social networking sites.

#474343; font-size: 1.8em; font-weight: bold;">LivingSocial and Groupon

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These websites send out daily e-blasts to registered consumers that feature a quickly expiring deal on a local activity (which, for some reason, is often yoga), restaurant, or bar. Both these services facilitate social sharing through Facebook and Twitter and have built out iPhone applications to take advantage of the mobile space. In fact, besides just facilitating social sharing, the sites encourage it by providing incentives for getting friends to participate. On Living Social, the deal is free if three friends buy it. On Groupon, you only get the deal if enough people join in on it. Warning: Besides promoting social sharing, these sites also encourage impulse buying with the ominous deal countdown clock.

#474343; font-size: 1.8em; font-weight: bold;">Shopkick

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This mobile application is garnering a great deal of buzz on social media tech sites because of its automatic check in feature. Rather than the manual check-in required on applications such as Foursquare, Shopkick uses a unique signal sound-based technology to automatically recognize when a consumer enters (or walks by) a store, presenting them with a set of applicable product offers, coupons, deals, and/or “kickbucks”. Shopkick is partnered with Simon Property Group, which is one of the biggest retail real estate owners in the country. Simon Property Group will be launching Shopkick in 25 stores where the application will recognize when a shopper walks by a store and consequently offers them a digital coupon. Shopkick is also partnered up with Best Buy; shoppers are presented with offers, deals, and “kickbucks” when they enter the store. Users can redeem “kickbucks” for downloads, cash back rewards, and other freebies. Best Buy is getting ready to outfit 257 stores in the U.S. with the new program.

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Social commerce is incredibly effective because it is a win for the consumer and a win for the brand/marketer. Through social commerce, the consumer gains access to the latest deals, offers, and product reviews. When the consumer shares information about their purchases through their social networks, the brand benefits from WOM marketing which is often coupled with a direct call to action (read: buy this now). As more and more consumers are going online to make purchasing decisions, social commerce will continue to evolve and develop to meet the demands of consumers.

For information about even more social commerce applications, check out Clay’s post about social shopping trends on Mashable.


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