Social shopping websites are here to stay as they simulate physical shopping experience involving community recommendations
Social shopping has come a long way when brands had their social accounts and shared social media buttons on their retail website. With further integration of social media and e-commerce, social media has turned into a sales platform, with both of them going hand-in-hand.
What is social shopping?
In social shopping, the shopping experience of a buyer is shared with the social network of friends and contacts. It is based on the idea that buyers are influenced by their friends’ purchases and recommendations as they use social media to share and comment on products and services. Social shopping aims to simulate the shopping environment spanning physical malls and stores as, for many, shopping from a computer is not as much rewarding as walking into a mall along with friends.
As social shopping integrates the experience of shopping with social interaction, it has become the preferred mode of shopping for many.
Social shopping websites display personalised products to shoppers as they aim to learn about buyers’ shopping habits and connect them to buyers with similar shopping habits. This means products are not displayed randomly as they are based on the user’s shopping habits. Social shopping websites display the products which are popular among like-minded buyers.
Some of the social shopping websites include:
- Pinterest: Pinterest is one of the best social shopping websites which comes with powerful search and filter functions. Products are mixed among other pins such as product reviews, articles, quotes, etc. The product pin page displays image, price, re-pin count, and social sharing options. Buyers can make pin boards of favourite pins and follow favourite brands or pinners.
- Wanelo: Wanelo is an abbreviation of the words – “Want”, “Need”, “Love” and is a community-based e-commerce website that features products from top retailers. Users can bring their collection of items from the website as well as external links into a pinboard-style platform. They can browse, save, buy items, post new products, and follow members, stores, or product collections.
- Opensky: Opensky is a social shopping website that sells a variety of products and offers deals which allows shoppers to score great prices on products. The product pages contain product-related specifications, comments, and details. Users can follow products by saving them to the “Loves List” or add to their news feed by clicking a smiley. Users can follow sellers and brands on the site that have a storefront page with a list of followers and activity. The website offers points-based reward system to buyers which is achieved through levels of friends’ engagement with the site and users can earn points for inviting friends to join as well as on each purchase by the invitee. Rewards comprise various user levels which range from Aqua (2,500 points) through to Sapphire (60,000 points), with each level granting shopping rewards such as free shipping and credits toward future purchases.
- Fab: Fab offers wide variety of products organised by department, New Arrivals, Gifts for You, Featured Deals, and Clearance categories. It offers products at discounted prices through flash sales. Users can add the product to the custom wishlist by clicking on the heart icon. The site offers the options of a traditional retail site dashboard and a pin-board style layout which display product pictures along with product details such as expiration date, price, and number of favorites. It offers best price matching feature on products within 14 days of purchase.
- Luvocracy: Luvocracy rewards for using its services and acts as a third-party price negotiator for product purchases. Luvocracy members recommend products they “Luv” on the Web. More “Luvs” for a product increase the number of “trusts” from other members. Users earn rewards on posted products purchased by another member as well as product recommendations. Users become a Tastemaker if they have a wider reach and earn up to 10 per cent reward.
Apart from the above-mentions websites, there are social networking websites that provide online store functions, which include:
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
Facebook: Facebook is the biggest social network worldwide, with 2.41 billion monthly active users as of the second quarter of 2019. This makes the social networking website a lucrative option for online buyers, which includes Facebook store and Facebook Marketplace, the networking site’s online store functions.
Facebook store is a feature of the social networking site which connects users and businesses. Users can click on the Store Tab of a business and purchase products directly from Facebook Store.
The social networking giant’s another website feature includes Facebook Marketplace where potential buyers can make a search for products using the website’s powerful search filter that lets users limit search results by category, price, location etc. Users can message sellers easily from inside Facebook which makes the buying process quick and easy.
For sellers, if a business already has an online store or wants to set up one, Facebook offers an easy and effective way to boost sales. Sellers can list products and set up a shopping cart to connect payments.
Businesses can engage their target audience and widen their reach through viral marketing easily through Facebook compared with any single e-commerce platform.
Instagram: Instagram is a social networking website where users share photos and videos. It is popular among online shoppers who buy items from within the website, without having to navigate away to the retailer website. Users can get more information about a product shown in Instagram posts that come with a “tap to view” button, which brings up the tags showcasing the products and their prices. A photo on this social networking website can have a maximum of 5 tags per photo. Users get a detailed view of the product by selecting a tag. Tapping on the tagged items takes users to the brand’s online shop where they can buy products.
Twitter: Twitter is a microblogging and social network service where blogging and instant messaging is used to create and share short messages with an online audience using hashtags. These short messages include text, video, audio and hyperlinks. While the text messages are limited to 280 characters, users can share videos, article links, photos, GIFs, sound clips etc. along with the text messages.
The website allows users to interact with businesses and buy products and services listed on the website. In terms of businesses, they can raise the quality of their reach to more niche audiences by hiring micro-influencers. Micro-influencers are more affordable for brands and have smaller, highly engaged social media audiences and viewed as more trustworthy by consumers, driving superior sales figures.