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Social commerce – the new shopping

9 December, 2011

Social commerce is one of the new online “buzz” phrases and if you don’t know what it means, it’s a mash-up of social media and e-commerce.  According to marketing experts, it’s the new “shopping” or, to quote Wikipedia, “the use of social networks in the context of e-commerce transactions”.A new study has revealed that 53% of people have “liked” a fashion page on Facebook and use the page’s updates to keep informed of new offers and 2 out of 3 women in the US buy fashion products online.  The top 200 fashion brands all use social commerce and social media to promote their brands and build a loyal fan base of customers.  Apparently 69% of online shoppers use social networking sites, so developing an effective social media strategy is essential nowadays when trading  – whether it’s online or offline.

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Facilitating interactions amongst people who like to buy stuff is an important part of an organisation’s social strategy – it provides consumers with an entertaining method of connecting with others who have similar tastes and interests.  People enjoy connecting online and engaging in conversations that are relevant to the products or services that they favour.

Online businesses use this social activity to invite their target audience to take an active part in promoting their products/services – shoppers will make recommendations to others, write reviews and advocate brands, not just to people they know, but to other people online that they’ve never met.  Using a brand’s social pages is also a great way for consumers to let the brand know what it is they want in products, what’s important to them, features that they would like to see included – it’s a great way for a company to get feedback from customers.  It’s also a really effective way for businesses to communicate with their customer bases, providing the opportunity to respond instantly to questions, queries, complaints and compliments.  The benefits to be gained from being able to connect directly with consumers can be a really effective way of boosting business and reaching a much wider audience.

Chances are that when an organisation uses social networking platforms like Facebook and Twitter to provide news and updates on products, offers, sales, etc, their followers will retweet, repost and share each and every item.  This has the effect of spreading the word and reaching many more people than the original army of followers.  Not only does it provide a direct line to loyal customers, it also comes to the attention of all of their followers, friends and family.  This is such a powerful marketing tool that it can radically increase sales if it’s used effectively.

When you consider how many people nowadays access social media websites on the go from their mobile phones, using social networks is the most potent way that companies can get the message across.  People like to join in – they like to communicate and they like to spread the word.  They can do all of this at the touch of a button, wherever they are, whatever else they’re doing and whatever time of day it is.  If people see something they like, it’s a sure bet that they will want to share it.  Social commerce is the future of marketing strategies and the organisations that embrace social media will be the ones that stand head and shoulders above the rest.

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