Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
June 2, 2007 4:08 PM

Social Shopping Takes Hold As The Next Hot Online Social Network

I've been spending a good chunk of time evaluating the Social Shopping space. Some of it is based off of my recent experience speaking at Shop.org for their Online Marketing Workshop, and some of it is based on a personal passion to try and help online retailers better understand the balance between immediate click conversion balanced with the power of building community.

Currently, the slew of Social Shopping sites are places to rate, evaluate and discuss products - without the direct interference of the brand. The future of Social Shopping is much more exciting.

In its current form, companies like Amazon deal on a one-to-one model: an individual makes a purchase and Amazon must fulfill that individual sales. Imagine a wiki-driven environment where, say, Seth Godin fans can meet up and self-organize to buy his latest book, The Dip. If I were Amazon, I would be interested in selling several thousand books through that one wiki page as opposed to hunting down each individual acquisition. I would even be willing to offer the group a preferred price (maybe even one that gets sweeter based on how many books can be purchased).

We are already hearing similar Social Shopping stories coming out of Europe, where groups of individuals are setting up wikis for a specific brand, creating a mass-generated wish list and then holding real-life Tupperware-like parties when the box of goods arrives. They are leveraging the wiki to buy directly from the manufacturer.

Social Shopping's future is the ability for a self-organized group to do much more than just the purchase. It's the opportunity to buy in bulk, connect directly with the brand and build friendships with individuals who have like-minded interests.

A quick diagnostics of how far online social networking has come in the past few years is an indication of where Social Shopping is headed in the very-near-future. If we're currently doing it to find other like-minded people who have similar interests, what makes you think we would not do the same thing to find others who are similar to us in terms of our commercial interests_ especially if the price becomes more attractive as the social shopping network grows.

Check out this article for more insights: E-Commerce Times - Solo Hunters, Social Gatherers And The Online Marketplace.

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • You know where one of the hottest shopping venues for social shopping is, with shopping tours, shopping groups, and mass, organized buying?

    Second Life. Watch Twitter - you'll see some of the connected SL crowd broadcast a shopping trip or an event, and it's amazing to see a group spontaneously self organize and then go buy a ton of stuff.

    Reply
  • Posted by Mitch Joel
    Mitch Joel

    Hey Ninja,

    This truly fascinates me, can you shoot me over a link the next time you see something like this? I'd love to hear about it and try it out.

    Reply
  • Posted by Nicolas
    Mitch Joel

    I find interesting to see “old” concepts that re-surface as part of the Web 2.0 and Social Shopping trends - remember the late 90s / early 00s, with MobShop in US (shut down in 2001) or Clust in FR (that stopped doing group buying a few years ago, as far as I remember). Whatever… I think you're right: the “group buying” concept could be successfully relaunched now the audience is more mature and aware of the social web.

    Reply
  • Posted by Michelle / Chel
    Mitch Joel

    The 3D world that is Second Life enhances the experience of sharing events and experience with others. Social shopping is only a twitter or group IM away.

    For example, a couple weeks ago I twittered about needing/wanting a new skin and where should I go in Second Life to purchase this time around. The women I know immediately jumped in with several great suggestions. By the time I got those suggestions I also recieved a few IMs in world to teleport friends while I shopped. As a result, there were four of us shopping instead of me going alone. How much in purchases? I'd say somewhere around 7000L instead of the 1000L that I would have spent alone.

    One of the most brilliant things is the combination of SL shopping with RL shopping. The best example of a RL company in Second Life that makes great use of the environment is American Apparel. You walk into the SL storefront, purchase an item and in that folder you get not only that item in every available color but you get a link to the exact same item on the American Apparel website. Included is a promo code for 15% off your purchase. If you have any problems with either, there is a note card included with the customer service rep for American Apparel in SL.

    The beauty is that social shopping in SL is open to any business that chooses to take advantage of it. To catch up with friends during shopping is fun, to do it while using a virtual world only enhances the experience.

    Reply
  • Rumor has it, Mitch, that a certain band of SL Shoppers isn't going to just invite you along - they're going to take YOU shopping in world. Stay tuned.

    Reply
  • Posted by Tamara Kirshner
    Mitch Joel

    Um, Chris, that's unconfirmed at the moment. Maybe people should check with others before making plans for them.

    Reply
  • Posted by Nancy Arter
    Mitch Joel

    I was so fascinated by your thoughts on Social Shopping, especially because they really mesh with other Mobile Marketing tactics, that I had to boast about your blog on our blog: www.rrwdatabasemarketing.blogspot.com. It will be interesting to see how this is adopted world-wide!

    Reply
  • Posted by Kate Trgovac
    Mitch Joel

    I totally agree about SL being the perfect example of Social Shopping. Eden Spodek and I have created "After A Fashion" which is a geographically dispersed (Toronto, Waterloo and Vancouver) SL shopping group. Originally designed as a fun way to introduce marketers to SL, we now have a fairly large group that gets together in both SL and RL (depending on geography) to shop, chat, stay in touch, blog and get our nails done.

    It would be great if there were more of a relationship between RL & SL. It would also be interesting to develop an affiliate marketing program with designers in SL ... so, if shopping groups choose designer A over designer B, then there is a benefit to the group organizer. The virtual world version of Tupperware parties :)

    After a Fashion can be found:
    http://mynameiskate.typepad.com/secondlife/after_a_fashion/
    http://bargainista.blogspot.com/search/label/after%20a%20fashion

    Reply
  • Posted by Mitch Joel
    Mitch Joel

    I'm also seeing Social Shopping hitting the mainstream media this past week.

    I still think the win is going well beyond reviews and peers hanging out and chatting.

    I would love a Second Life social shopping experience. Let me know when.

    I'd also love to see how Kate and Eden's group rolls out.

    I also am curious about what will happen when we mesh mobile into the RL - SL social shopping world.

    Interesting times indeed.

    Reply
  • Posted by Noreen Sequeira
    Mitch Joel

    Hey Mitch,

    I really like your take on social shopping I especially agree with this
    "Social Shopping’s future is the ability for a self-organized group to do much more than just the purchase. It’s the opportunity to buy in bulk, connect directly with the brand and build friendships with individuals who have like-minded interests."

    I'm an avid online shopper especially when it comes to fashion and clothing. I've signed up on this site called www.dealplumber.com which is another aspect of social shopping, social deal discovery. It allows users to post the best deals and coupons they find along with being able to rate and share them.

    I really feel that the social shopping scene is expanding with not just social shopping sites but also social shopping deal and coupon sites as well as social shopping review sites which help users and shoppers get user reviews of the products online before purchasing it. All these combined, making the social shopping world definitely something to keep your eye on.

    Looking forward to more of your views.

    Cheers!

    Reply
  • Posted by Jeff
    Mitch Joel

    What are your thoughts on this whole over-sharing phenomena going on and with sites like http://justbought.it popping up?

    Reply
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