Digital Insights

How Social Shopping is Changing the E-commerce Landscape


Published: June 1, 2015

Over the last few years, e-commerce retailers have brought fun and convenience to the way people shop. The need to jump in the car and head out to brick-and-mortar stores has been replaced by consumers who simply pull out their mobile devices, locate their favorite e-commerce website or app to make a seamless purchase. During this same time frame, marketing phenoms have taken to social media to spread the word about the latest and greatest products on the market. It was inevitable that one day, these two concepts would be conjoined to bring the next great revolution in online shopping.

Introducing Social Shopping

That day came sooner rather than later. Over the last year or so, “social shopping” has made significant inroads in the e-commerce marketplace. Popular social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook now offer the ability for people to shop right through their social media account, many times with just a click or two of a button. Even popular e-commerce sites such as Amazon and Pinterest have developed a platform that provides the ability to link with marketing programs through social media sites, creating the perfect atmosphere for online shoppers.

What is Social Shopping

Social shopping is derived from e-commerce retailers that are looking to create the kind of shopping experience found when a few friends jump in the car and head to the mall. The key to success has been finding a convenient way for people meet and share information about products they have seen or purchased. These same retailers are also looking for a way to convert mass marketing efforts into meaningful sales. These two endeavors fit perfectly into the social media space. Where else do friends meet to chat and discuss the day’s event? Social media sites, of course. The union of the marketing efforts in social media with people in the mood to shop and share has created the perfect e-commerce storm. According to Richard Fouts, a Gartner research vice president, his company is predicting as much as 5% of all sales of consumer goods will be initiated through social media environments by 2017.

The Appeal of Social Shopping

While the existence of blog and referral sites have provided a forum to share information about products currently in the marketplace, there has always been a missing component. Those sites allow for strangers to share information, but do little to make it easy for friends and acquaintances to discuss and share information about the products they are encountering. With the advent of social shopping capabilities, friends can come together online in a natural environment, view the latest marketing information about certain products and have a nice little chat about what they are experiencing. If they are compelled to make a purchase, the access is being provided by direct purchase links (buy buttons) to the e-commerce retailers. It’s through these social interactions that e-commerce retailers are able to tap into the emotions and feelings people have when they are conversing with their friends. By providing easy access to make purchases, two friends who agree on the appeal of particular products are able to fulfill their whims right there on the spot. Not only are the e-commerce retailers going to experience a bump in sales from a new customer from a social group, but they have also increased the number of potential customers they have to include those people who maintain relationships with new customers who makes a purchase and enjoys the product(s). If word of mouth between strangers has power, the power derived from referrals between friends must be enormous.

How Social Shopping is Changing the E-commerce Landscape

Much of the social media marketing efforts to this point have focused on brand development for many retailers. However, there has been a subtle shift in recent months to lead generation. By relying on word of mouth marketing efforts between social media friends, the brand tends to development naturally within these smaller groups of shoppers. This allows e-commerce retailers to shift some of its marketing dollars away branding efforts and apply those funds to finding ways to drive customers to purchase points. Much of this activity relies on the notion that many of today’s consumers are willing to make purchases at anytime no matter where they may be or what they might be doing. They used to call this impulse buying. However, the convenience of shopping though social media while conversing with friends has done nothing more than find a time when potential customers are in the mood to do a little shopping with friends in tow.


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