Shopping together is better

Getting advice from friends or someone you trust has always been a valuable thing to have when shopping.  E-commerce has revolutionised the retail industry beyond recognition. According to EConsultancy 42% of us buy something online once per week.  71% of us state that recommendations from a friend or family influences which website we choose. For the last decade we have slowly been increasing the amount of time and money that we spend shopping online but until this year that shopping experience has been a relatively lonely past time.  We have been able to get advice from strangers or experts in the form of reviews or from smart website solutions like Amazon that make recommendations based on what you have bought before but now we can also get an additional and very important opinions and advice from our own community.  This latest change is driven by social network technology that can connect our shopping experiences to our social graph.  Facebook open graph is probably the most significant contributer to this from a scale point of view, the simple action of ‘likes’ tells me if the product I am considering is a popular choice.  Some brands have gone one step further and taken their shopping experience to Facebook itself.  If you go to the BestBuy facebook page you can shop for their products and request reviews and comments from your friends at the touch of a button. This is achieved through their ‘Shop and Share’ app – http://www.facebook.com/bestbuy?v=app_110144381181.   This is a great experience for the consumer and a smart way of generating earned media for BestBuy.  We are also witnessing a rise in collaborative buying on sites like Groupon or My City deal, we have seen this model in the past (lets buy it.com) but it did not work as well as it does today because now consumer demand meets technology capability.

The Fashion brands who in the past have been slow to embrace digital media are now emerging as leaders in the social retail space, M&S, Topshop and ASOS to name a few are taking innovative approaches to how they drive shoppers to their site more often across multiple social platforms.  They create content to inspire shoppers, they provide customer support and offer special incentives and deals to fans.  Facebook is often the highest referrer of traffic to a retailers site after google, if this is not the case for you then take a look at your Facebook strategy because the opportunity and scale are both there.

Foursquare users can checkin to get discounts in some of their favourite stores, whilst this is not mainstream yet Facebook Places with the ‘deals’ product over-layed will bring scale to this idea very quickly.  It launched in the US this week with GAP and Starbucks.

Our technology driven world is getting more and more connected each day and for some people this is seen as a negative, but personally I quite like it.  As long as I am in the driving seat and can turn my connections off and on then why wouldn’t I want some social context to everything I read, search for or buy online?

If this subject interests you then join us at Mindshare for a WPP Stream style discussion on social and retail:

Stream London – Breakfast Discussion @ Internet Week Europe: “Shopping together is better”. To RSVP and find out more http://bit.ly/crvX1U

 

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