In the run up to Black Friday, when there’s a notorious spike in retail sales with shoppers making their Christmas purchases, we decided to take a look at the ecommerce landscape and how it looks to be affected by the burgeoning phenomenon that is social commerce.
What’s out there?
Facebook in particular is moving aggressively towards becoming a widely used social commerce platform, enabling the user to remain within the safe haven of their favourite social networking space when making purchases from their favourite brands… and then showing off their latest trendy snag to their networks.
While users can’t yet buy whatever they want from whoever they want on Facebook, the forthcoming launch of a couple of new social shopping features heralds the new dawn of social consumerism:
Gifts – This allows consumers to purchase either digital or physical gifts for the friends in their network, enabling them to remain within the Facebook ecosystem when reviewing and completing their purchase.
While this hasn’t yet been rolled out to brands, Facebook is allowing them to sign up here if they’re interested.
Collections – Launched in October this year in the US, Collections enables users to Like, Want or Collect items and add them to a special Wishlist, which is then available for their social network to see, thus spreading influence and allowing people to know exactly what material fancies their loved ones desire.
While all US users will very soon see prompts to Like, Want or Collect items to their Wishlist, we’re going to be looking at a longer wait here in the UK.
With more than two-million members, Fancy is the place to be for trendsetting style curators to come and follow the pictorial style memoirs of other trendsetting style curators. Generating $10 million in e-commerce revenue, annually, Fancy is a big player in the world of social commerce.
Business pages – While until now, Pinterest has been directed principally at individual curators of beautiful pictures and pictures of beautiful products, it has now officially branched out into ecommerce with the launch of its business accounts.
Pinterest’s brand pages don’t look any different to those of regular users, and they don’t offer any additional functionality, which means that they don’t really follow the tradition of Facebook’s, Twitter’s and Google+’s offerings.
However, this is a concerted move into the social commerce sphere, with Pinterest’s Product Manager, Cat Lee, also highlighting that the team “hope[s] to add more tools and features that are geared toward this audience.”
Widgets – Two new widgets (Profile and Board) have also recently been added to its existing Pin it! and Follow widgets that will enable both businesses and regular account holders to embed pins and boards on third-party sites.
The Profile widget allows users to display up to 30 of their latest pins anywhere on their website, while the Board widget allows users to display up to 30 of their latest pins on a specific board (enabling the user to focus the kind of content they display on very specific categories).
What does this mean for ecommerce brands?
With expected yearly ecommerce sales of $224.2 billion, and Christmas sales between November and December making up 24.3% of the total, there’s a huge amount of money to be made by savvy ecommerce brands.
Brands that have beautiful and/or fashionable picture content on their site and that aren’t pushing their products out via the likes of Pinterest or Fancy would do extremely well to get in on all that money flying around in the run up to Christmas – and for 2013.
Where can brands take social ecommerce?
Having recently covered Not On The High Street’s recently released app on her own blog, Branded3’s Online PR and Social Media Specialist, Laura Crimmons, suggested that a useful development of this app’s concept would be that the app didn’t merely ask you to tell it what kind of person your Facebook friend was, but to automatically pull in information from their Likes and their Interests sections to provide suggestions based on the information given by the friend themselves.
A fantastic suggestion, and one that could be brought even further forward by app developers when Facebook’s Collections gets fully rolled out.
Imagine an Amazon app, for example, that simply trawled your network’s Wishlists, and pulled in all your friends’ and family’s birthdays to remind you when their birthday is and suggest a gift they’d actually want?
We’d love to hear your thoughts – are there any great apps that we’ve missed that you think our readers should check out? Leave us a little comment below…