Practical Ecommerce

Social Commerce Top 10 for 2010; Outlook for 2011

Two social commerce topics that created the biggest stir this year were location-based social networks like Foursquare and Facebook Places, and group coupon deals championed by sites like Groupon and Living Social. Groupon became the year’s leading social commerce newsmaker when it reportedly spurned a $6 billion acquisition offer by Google earlier in December.

Social commerce garnered much of my attention in 2010 as well, resulting in a series of articles here on the topic. In this, my final article for 2010, I list the ten most popular, based on (a) the highest number of clicks from Facebook and Twitter, (b) the total number of page views, and (c) the greatest reach within social media from Twitter “retweets.”

1. 10 Free Facebook Apps for Ecommerce Merchants

Here is a list of ten free Facebook apps for ecommerce businesses divided into four categories: Landing Page Creation, Email Marketing, Facebook Shopping Carts, and Other.

2. 3 Group Coupon Companies for Purely Ecommerce Merchants

Group coupon deals tend to favor local merchants. Here are three companies that provide group coupon buying alternatives for online businesses.

3. ‘Deal-of-the-Day’ Coupons Help Merchants Attract Customers; 4 Tips

The deal of the day group coupon-buying concept appeals mostly to local brick-and-mortar retailers and large retail brands. But ecommerce merchants can take advantage of the trend by offering coupons on deal-of-the day sites as a method to attract new customers.

4. Social Media Improves Online Trust: 4 Tips

Consumers will not buy products from a merchant whom they mistrust. Social media can help overcome that reluctance to purchase by making trust a foundational operating principle.

5. Email Providers Embrace Social Media: 4 Examples

Email service providers are integrating email marketing with social media, leading to renewed vitality and interest in the genre. This article reviews four popular ESPs in terms of how well they have incorporated social media into their respective platforms.

6. Facebook Encourages Ecommerce; App-Makers Respond

Facebook designates Fan pages for businesses to engage users and app-makers are rushing in to provide social commerce features designed to benefit the smaller merchant.

7. Social Media: Four Steps to Effective Marketing Strategy

This article proposes a practical, four-part social commerce strategy that minimizes the time required participating in social media and that recognizes the overall purpose is to grow sales.

8. Four Apps to Create Facebook ‘Welcome’ Pages

Thousands of ecommerce businesses have Facebook Fan pages. But making those pages stand out from competitors’ pages is a challenge. One of the ways to distinguish yours is through the use of a custom landing page, also known as a “Welcome” tab.

9. Retailer Spends Little Money for Big Social Media Impact

Online retailer Layla Grayce’s use of free and low-cost applications from a variety of vendors that makes the company’s approach a worthy model to follow by other merchants.

10. Social Media’s Effect on Holiday Sales

A spokesman for competitive intelligence service Hitwise reported via Twitter that the percentage of traffic ecommerce sites received from social media was 4.39 percent for the “top 500” ecommerce sites on Black Friday. With a number as low as that, why bother?

Looking Forward to 2011

There is currently a great deal of hype concerning social commerce. Over the next few weeks, I plan to take an ecommerce merchant’s point of view and give careful, unbiased consideration to uncover both its pitfalls and possibilities. I will be asking hard questions, such as:

  1. What percentage of tangible goods is actually being sold via Facebook and other social media channels?
  2. How can merchants manage back-end inventory and accounting issues with a separate Facebook store?
  3. What common marketing and merchandising features that online merchants depend on need to be included in Facebook shopping carts before it can be seen as a viable ecommerce platform?
  4. Is it in a merchant’s best interest to put a social media channel such as Facebook between the merchant and his customer?
  5. What role does social media play in the overall marketing mix and can it serve as an aligned channel along with other forms of marketing?

Social commerce may well deserve a place in the ecommerce merchant’s marketing toolkit. My goal in this series of articles will be to determine just what that is, if any.

Paul Chaney

Paul Chaney

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  1. Mike Eckler December 29, 2010 Reply

    Paul, I’m really looking forward to reading your series in the next few weeks. As I’ve said before, I believe that social e-commerce is a bubble that is going to burst sooner or later.

    I received a tweet earlier today in which someone was complaining about being inundated by "socialized" commerce. I’ve pasted the text here (and removed some of the identifying information for the sake of privacy):

    "If I see one more… business suggested to be my "friend" on Facebook, I might scream. Fan pages, people…."

    Maybe you can cure my cynicism and prove me wrong about the f-commerce bubble.

    Based on your blog posts in the past, I’m looking forward to some interesting and well researched articles.

    Good luck and thanks!

    Mike at eCommerceAngles.com

  2. Paul Chaney December 29, 2010 Reply

    Thanks for your comment Mike. I’m sure there are more than a few "cynics" out there. My goal with this series is neither to prove or disprove, but to discover what is actually happening at this point in time. Though I have my own notions about social commerce, I’m setting them aside to, as Joe Friday was fond of saying, looking at "just the facts, ma’am, just the facts."

    You can be sure the articles will be well-researched. I plan to speak with any number of smaller ecommerce merchants in an effort to walk in their shoes.

  3. mattcompton December 29, 2010 Reply

    Social eCommerce is much more than "liking" a business and going to their Facebook Store, so I don’t think it will bust but rather further refine itself. Networks of people will exist in Facebook, on existing .com sites, and anywhere online – so its more than just commerce inside of Facebook.

    To the article points above – phase 1 of social ecommerce was Groupon, LivingSocial,etc. gaining traction with viral retail models. For some companies this limits their control and margins so they then move to phase 2, where they deploy any number of social widgets (reviews, couponing, badging, etc) to leverage social networks. They’ll experience the frustrations of working with multiple social software vendors and having limited integration to key transaction data.

    Phase 3, a comprehensive "suite" of social tools that work together out of the box, allows you to leverage your customer networks wherever they are, and it is tied to your core ecommerce (key transaction data), inventory and order processes. Social eCommerce is a channel like any other and it can’t exist in a siloed fashion.

    This last approach mentioned addresses questions like merchandising, inventory management, and having all the required and expected functionality found in eCommerce.

    Lastly, I don’t think the merchant has the choice on whether they put this social media channel in front of the consumer. With social media, the consumer is now in control, it is where they are spending their time, and merchants need to figure out how to insert themselves in a relevant way.

    Looking forward to 2011!