Why retailers should consider social shopping

For many people, shopping has always been a social activity. Whether it is friends being dragged around the shops to offer opinions on potential new outfits, or children taking their parents with them to get a more experienced perspective on bigger ticket items like cars; shopping involves chat, discussion and listening to the opinion of people you trust and respect.

So it’s perhaps no surprise that the rise of social media over the past decade has heralded a new era of social shopping, transposed from physical stores to online. This new form of social shopping combines social media and e-commerce, taking aspects of the social web and applying those to shopping. It’s proving to be a potentially powerful offering too, for both retailers and specialist online communities that can allow their audience to buy the products that they have been recommending.

Social + shopping

This combination of the social web and e-commerce is one of the emerging retail trends of recent years and it is one that the social networks themselves are keen to capitalise on. Facebook recently acquired TheFind, an app that crawls the Internet to offer a personalised shopping experience based on consumers’ social profile and the way they shop.

It has also been testing a ‘buy’ button that allows an advertiser to sell products through their Facebook adverts. Twitter launched a similar button last year, with pop singer Rihanna and fashion brand Burberry take part in the initial trial. However, I am not convinced that the social networks themselves are particularly suited to social shopping, especially Twitter which has grown its reputation based on an almost counter-culture spirit, of righting wrongs and passionate debate. I believe that social networks are well suited as a marketing tool not less so a transactional one, great for driving conversation and engagement with a brand but less useful for direct sales.

An engaged community

That’s not to say that it doesn’t make sense for social networks to bring commerce into their proposition. It adds another dimension to the proposition, keep users interested and crucially, on the site. But perhaps social shopping is perhaps better suited to sites where there is already an engaged and committed community.

The Beautyst is one such community, an online beauty community and store that has just expanded its digital strategy to launch the world’s first marketplace fully dedicated to beauty products. This feels like a natural evolution of the offering. Launched in 2011, The Beautyst currently has a community of 250,000 ‘beautystas’, 650 beauty bloggers and offers more than 20,000 products as the ultimate online destination for essential make up tips, beauty news and online shopping.

The recent addition of a marketplace to its existing online store makes for a really compelling proposition. The marketplace will provide extensive product choice to the ‘beautystas’ and offers brands a new e-commerce channel that harnesses the power of The Beautyst’s social following and community – a potent combination of content and commerce.

Consumers register their beauty profile, and then receive a completely personalised experience on the site. Social content (video tutorials, pictures, user feedback) is recommended to them, and they discover new products to purchase in just a few clicks. The addition of the marketplace to The Beautyst means that both major cosmetics brands and smaller firms have a new route to market and can maximise sells from social shopping.

The power of content

At the heart of The Beautyst’s proposition though, is content. The social content (photo and video tutorials, blogger feedback) is at the core of the purchasing journey to guide consumers, with more than 300 pieces of content posted every day. This extends the shopping experience by making it even more collaborative and community-based.

This combination of content and commerce is one rich with potential for retailers of all sizes and types, and is also suitable for publishers. Any publisher with an active community can deploy these principals in order to allow their readers to buy the products they recommend. This means that they avoid readers purchasing on another website after taking advice from them and they offer an additional service to their readers without them directly buying the products. This means there is no investment for the publisher and they can preserve their all-important editorial independence and integrity.

Content and commerce has been until fairly recently, a relatively unused combination. But this is set to change, as social shopping continues to grow in popularity. In many ways, social shopping is preferable to going to an actual store even over going to an actual store to shop. The customer is only ever one click away from a price comparison and they can easily find out what others are saying about their intended purchase. They can even leave their own comments to help shape others’ social shopping experience. All of which means, the social shopping trend is only going to grow in 2015, and beyond.

Read this article on its orignal source, FourSource.

Topics : Marketplaces

Lison Laissus

Written by Lison Laissus

Customer Marketing Manager

Subscribe to Our Blog:

Stay up to date with the latest marketplace news.