Why I think customer reviews and social shopping are necessary. Social shopping can be an interesting concept which divides opinion amongst web commentators.
Most are agreed that social shopping is usually a specific sort of web service which consists of roots from the social explosion of Web 2.0.
In their purest from the best social shopping sites present an open independent platform where users may add products, post an assessment or give you a product rating. The sites are service orientated, supplying the tools for some to use and thus rely heavily on user generated content to put the agenda.
In essence an opportunity now exists for consumers to band together, discuss specific products and brands and present an authentic alternative voice for the brand led marketing activity and conventional expert reviews we all have been subjected to in other media.
By sharing product knowledge and experiences, creating useful content, an empowered community consensus can emerge, highlighting the gems and warning up against the over hyped duds – the merchandise which disappoint and do not deliver.
This style of user generated content carries a real value and satisfies a crucial element of the internet shopping process – research, which makes up about 80% of consumer time if they’re shopping online.
Social shopping sites combine social elements like a social networking community features with elements of shopping like product reviews, ratings and deal hunting.
Some with the more agile social shopping sites are responsible for use in the Twitter API and Facebook Connect to tap in to your online conversation, providing context for product related Tweets on Twitter and distribution of product opinion via Facebook.
Social shopping sites could be a value added evolution on the affiliate model – because they seek to monetize website content (the consumer generated reviews and ratings) by sending targeted traffic to third party merchant sites where they’re able to purchase product.
My starting position would be to agree with the mantra that “customer recommendation could be the Holy Grail of Advertising”. We know this is true inside the real world – when your friends and neighbours enthuse relating to new car, lawnmower, laptop or photographic camera – it’s going to have weight, you practice note.
The same holds online – reviews and recommendations are extremely powerful; particularly those from people who have status in a very community, the ones which are provided weeks and months following the purchase; exactly the scale and dynamics of relationships differ. The potential then of social shopping and what it really offers us as consumers, designers, specialist retailers and brands which really target and answer their community can be quite exciting.
Some statistics and predictions from rantorave.
According with a global Nielsen survey of 26,486 Internet users in 47 markets, consumer recommendations are definitely the most credible kind of promotion among 78% with the study’s respondents. (Nielsen, “Word-of-Mouth the Most Powerful Selling Tool”).
83% of customers said online product evaluations and reviews influenced their purchasing decisions. (Opinion Research Corporation, an infoGROUP company, July 2008).
76% of US retailers said user-generated content might have a greater affect their marketing goals from the near future. (SLI Systems/Zoomerang, November 2008).
56% of UK online marketers say that user-generated content lifts conversion levels; 77% say zinc increases traffic; and 42% say zinc increases the average commit to site.(eConsultancy survey of 360 web owners across all sectors, November 2008).
By 2020, 84% of marketers agree that building customer trust becomes marketing’s primary objective, and 82% agree that collaboration with customers will prevail over marketing. (1to1 Media survey April, 2008).
Top 10 Social shopping sites: (note I am only in a position to submit articles with 4 links)
Kaboodle - a fantastic site, arguably market leader meant for female consumers. Now belonging to Hearst Digital Media.
ThisNext - another strong site with the emphasis on female consumers, this website feels like a fantastic window shopping knowledge about expert Maverns on tap
Tribesmart - this great site is working with twitter and Facebook connect. There are some great tools including the personal list builder and community messaging features in line with the 'Tribes' idea. Like Veedow, Wists and Crowdstorm it could possibly appeal to both sexes which is potentially the place that the gap within the market can be as Kaboodle, OSOYOU and ThisNext have marked out a compensation claim on the younger female market.
Veedow - a rather confusing site, a neat idea, still yet to appreciate it's full potential during my view
Stylehive - feeling less such as a pure play social shopping site currently, it features a strong increased exposure of wannabe celebrity fashion/lifestyle writers individual preference follow - it's not necessarily as vibrant as twitter even if you can see where they go with it
Jungle Raft - a whole new entrant, included as it is usually a new concept which has a clear proposition with regards to pulling the top deals from Amazon
Stylefeeder - provides help users discover products according to their unique tastes. The looks a little from the pace and it has some annoying and tacky turn up ads. All a tad old skool.
Crowdstorm - the site can be a Digg type site for products, it is dependant on buzz plus an expert opinion network- eventhough it does appear to have gone quiet from the last 12 months
Shopstyle - appears like an ecommerce site with price discounts on display. Lacks obvious reviews or community features even though stylebooks feature is absolutely nice enabling individuals to put looks together and share these - the 'sale alert' feature may very well be useful though and the internet site has attached with Elle magazine inside the past.
Wists - a trending site by what is new and what folks plan on buying