Online marketplaces bring buyers and sellers together to exchange goods and services. Social media encourages marketplace mentality by enabling product discovery in a social environment, where prospective customers can rely on the influence of friends to help them shop.
Shoppers can tell the world whether they Like a merchant or a product. In turn, merchants can share details of themselves such their names, faces, outside interests, and provide easy methods for consumers to communicate with them.
4 Social Marketplace Examples
A number of companies have created variations on the social marketplace theme. Here are four examples.
- Threadless. Fashion band Threadless operates in the highly competitive, largely commoditized t-shirt market. Rather than sell its own designs, Threadless is a curated social marketplace that connects t-shirt designers with their customers through talent contests. This unique approach has given the brand an enviable reputation: It sells out of most every line it produces.
- Deb Shops. Junior and plus size clothing retailer Deb Shops added social capabilities to its ecommerce site that allows people to discover products from each other in a Pinterest-like shopping experience. According to social commerce company 8thBridge, which provided the software used by Deb Shops, this resulted in a 16 percent increase in revenue per customer visit when compared to a control group that did not see such recommendations.
- Trendabl. Trendabl is a mobile social marketplace that uses an iOS app to enable shoppers to follow retail brands and share product interests with friends by snapping a photo and tagging the brand. Shoppers can add items from multiple merchants and click the “Buy” button to make a purchase directly from their smartphones.
- eBay. Recognizing the need to join buyers and sellers together in a more transparent way, eBay recently added several social marketplace features to its platform. These include:
- Collections. Groups of products that have been hand-selected from eBay’s listings by expert curators, and by eBay’s buyers and sellers.
- Follow. A one-click way for eBay customers to personalize their product feeds by following collections, curators, eBay users, and interests.
- Profiles. Customizable pages where buyers and sellers can share information about themselves, the collections they have created, and collections and people they follow.
2 Ways to Leverage Social Marketplaces
Merchants can leverage social marketplace selling in two primary ways.
- List products on existing marketplaces. Many such marketplaces exist. Two previous articles – “5 Social Marketplaces for Merchants and Shoppers” and “8 Social Shopping Sites for Ecommerce Merchants” — contain lists of the most popular. Some are broad-based, covering multiple categories, while others are niche-specific and limited to certain product types.
- Build social functionality into your ecommerce website. Consumers who visit your site are there with the intent to buy. Including features such as ratings and reviews and social sharing buttons help boost their confidence when making a purchase and can encourage them to tell others.