Are you Ready for Social Commerce ?
Isn’t it extremely common to ask your family and friend’s for suggestions before buying any product ? It has been so for ages and now with the increasing use of social media the same process has come on to the Internet. The social media platforms and communities are becoming big time influencers in online purchase process.Recognizing this, while many retail websites are trying to incorporate community features and build up a community around themselves, social platforms like Facebook and Twitter are taking this a step further.
Social platforms and communities play a major role through out the buying process. At the start of the buying process consumer interest in a product or service can be fueled by a special offer promoted by a brand through Facebook or Twitter. Consumers might also develop interest towards a product when they discover it through recommendations in social shopping sites like Kaboodle, StyleHive etc Typically before making a purchase most people look for reviews and this is when they are influenced by user generated reviews on retail websites and product review sites. Again post-purchase, customers today often connect with the retailer’s customer service agents through social networks like Twitter, also customers often resort to communities like forums to learn about product usage and help. So all through the process from, initiating the customers interest in the product to providing them with after sales support the social media platforms are playing a crucial role.
Recognizing this potential of social media and also understanding the fact that people are spending more and more time on social networks, retailers are doing their best to enhance their social presence. In fact at this point when retailers are just working to make their presence felt by serving compelling content to their fans / followers/ friends , it might not be long when they would offer a complete e-commerce experience within social platforms itself.
Unless we have a sudden change in the social media dynamics with the entry of some new networking platform, Facebook would probably take the cake in this evolution. There are a number of reasons to support this.
a) Facebook already offers a high level of interactivity for brands. Once an user becomes a fan of a brand the brand can post updates about special offers and other compelling content which gets posted to the fan’s wall.
b) Applications like Facebook Connect allow users to bring their friends along on a shopping session for feedback
c) Advanced Facebook apps are being developed that allows retailers like 1-800-flowers to offer a virtual store front within Facebook itself, allowing customers to complete their transaction process without leaving Facebook.
The e-commerce experience has already changed a lot from what it was a few years back to what it is today and given the way things are going it can be safely predicted that in the next few years E-commerce would complete its evolution to be Social Commerce.
Is your business ready for it ?