Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

The Ever-Growing World of Social E-Commerce

In fact, a Gartner survey found that 74 percent of shoppers use social networks to inform their purchase decisions, and as a result, more and more companies are incorporating things like user reviews and social network share buttons on their websites.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Social media is playing a bigger role in advertising, marketing and commerce every day. It’s important for you to know the trends, which ones matter and how to incorporate them into your own strategies as well as your clients’ — retailers included. Online shopping is growing at a steady pace, providing shoppers with the convenience of buying without even leaving their homes, but also offering them information to prepare for in-store purchases. In fact, a Gartner survey found that 74 percent of shoppers use social networks to inform their purchase decisions, and as a result, more and more companies are incorporating things like user reviews and social network share buttons on their websites.

However, social in terms of e-commerce can mean a lot of different things, as Lauren Indvik discussed in an article for Mashable. Below, we break down those differences so you can keep them in your arsenal. Take this information so you’ll be ready to discuss the social strategies available to and best suited for your retail clients.

1.    Peer-to-Peer Sales Sites: These are the Amazons and eBays of the world, which are often populated by individual sellers. However, there are some smaller retailers that will sell their products on these sites, which draw in large numbers of shoppers looking for competitive prices.

2.    Social Network Sales: This is when you’re on a social network like Facebook, and are referred to a retailer to make a purchase or explore their inventory. On some, you can make the purchase directly on the social network without having to go to the retailer site, for example, Facebook’s shop tab.

3.    Daily Deals and Group Purchases: Sites like Groupon and LivingSocial offer daily deals on various products and services based upon the number of people who have decided to make the purchase.

4.    Reviews and Recommendations: More and more, retail sites are including sections for user reviews, along with sites dedicated solely to that purpose. Shoppers seek confirmation that they are making the right buying decision, and want to hear other’s experience with the product or the seller, and have huge influence.

5.    User-Curated Shopping Lists: The Fancy and Lyst are a couple examples of sites that allow users to create their own lists of products and services, share them with other users, who can then shop based upon those lists.

6.    User Participation Shopping: Threadless and Modcloth, both online clothing retailers, allow users to participate in the production of their garments. Users can vote on designs they like in order to have them produced and sold on the site.

7.     Social Shopping: GoTryItOn and other such sites and mobile apps attempt to replicate the experience of shopping in stores by offering chats and forums so users can discuss their fashion inspiration and opinions with one another, offer advice to buyers, and therefore, inform purchase decisions.