Social media doesn’t stand still for anyone – or everyone – and its spin-off phenomena is no exception. Not a day goes by without some new development and we’re on hand to make sure you’re up to date with them all. The latest news is that ecommerce is now we-commerce.
Customers are increasingly turning to their online communities to help them make the best purchase decisions. Instead of painstakingly phoning round their friends, they can poll as many of their friends, family and colleagues as they like within seconds. If the internet is the new social shopping space, then social networking profiles are the new water coolers.
This has brought some interesting new business models into existence, capitalising on the new consumer-to-consumer marketing channel. ShopSocially is a subscription-based service that lets retailers embed a ‘share’ widget on their checkout pages, so customers can share their lovely new goodies with everyone they know on Twitter, Facebook and a host of other social sites. Kaboodle on the other hand has gone a step further and created their own network, allowing users to create profiles specifically to discuss fashion and build wardrobe wishlists. It now has 1.5 million users.
Don’t just take our word for it – the stats speak for themselves. A new study shows that 63% of online customers talk about their electronic purchases online, 43% talk about clothes, and 41% about applicances – as well as using their social networking in other aspects of their buying activity. Electronics buyers are streets ahead – a fifth have made a purchase based on an opinion on social networks, and almost half follow brands online for exclusive vouchers and discounts – but the rest are catching up.
Yet on the flip of the coin – and this might surprise you – there’s increasing evidence that some customers are researching their purchases online, before reverting to traditional, ‘bricks and mortar’ shopping to seal the deal. This way, they avoid the perceived high costs of shipping they associate with online shopping, and get to look over the products in person before committing to the purchase.
Experts are calling this commerce 3.0 – a beautiful marriage of online and offline sales, or ‘web-influenced sales’, or as we say, ‘having your cake and eating it’. The beneficiaries are the consumers, who don’t have to pay or wait for delivery, and local businesses, who can satisfy the need for instant gratification and capitalise on the 45% of shoppers who buy an extra item once in-store.
The lesson we’re learning is that as online and offline sales become increasingly blurred, they also need to be increasingly seamless, with quality customer service. Commerce 3.0 is here to stay – don’t get left behind.