Practical Ecommerce

5 Social-Shopping Sites to Help Retailers, Consumers

I received an email recently from a friend asking me what type of vacuum cleaner he should purchase. I noticed the email did not come from him directly, however, but from ShopSocially, a social shopping website that is part of a new class of sites in which reliance on friends is at the core.

ShopSocially

ShopSocially is at the beginning of this new genre. Front and center on the home page, users are given the opportunity to either ask friends a shopping question or share purchase information with friends.

ShopSocial.ly is a shopping recommendation engine.

ShopSocial.ly is a shopping recommendation engine.

In fact, that is the site’s sole purpose. ShopSocially is not an ecommerce site. It bills itself as a “shopping recommendation engine” built around two concepts: that people tend to consult friends regarding purchase decisions, and they like to share purchases they’ve made with friends.

The site borrows a tactic from Foursquare — the networking and locating service — and awards virtual badges as a way to entice users to share.

Addoway

Addoway is another member of the social shopping family.

When visitors come to the site, they are encouraged to:

  • Find great deals from sellers you can trust;
  • Share what your friends are buying and selling;
  • Share deals you find with friends and save more.

Addoway is similar to eBay in that it is a marketplace where anyone can buy and sell products. Unlike eBay, where sellers’ identities are hidden behind usernames and access to them is primarily funneled through the site itself, Addoway shows an avatar of the seller, along with links to social networks where he or she may have a profile. It puts the purchaser and the seller in direct communication.

Other Social Shopping Sites

Blippy

Blippy is a social sharing site where users post updates about purchases of goods and services. Blippy is comparable to Twitter due to its Twitter-like interface and the ability to follow others. Users can also synchronize, to Blippy, existing ecommerce accounts such as eBay, Etsy, iTunes, Gilt and Groupon.

Wanelo

Wanelo, which is combination of the words “want,” “need,” and “love,” is a site for bookmarking and sharing products with friends. Shoppers can follow one another and see what’s popular based on what friends are sharing.

Buy.com

Buy.com has jumped into the social shopping foray with its recent acquisition of DecisionStep, the developer of ShopTogether, a social shopping platform that allows users to shop together in real time, make recommendations of products, and chat via email, instant messaging, Facebook, or Twitter.

Advantages to Social Shopping

Benefits to Retailers

Social shopping offers benefits to retailers in that these sites not only harness the power of user reviews and recommendations of products, but also share information about users with retailers. Recommendations from friends add legitimacy to the value of a brand or product because they come from a trusted source, which can result in more sales.

Benefits to Shoppers

The greatest benefits to social shopping fall on the side of the shoppers. It gives them the ability to build and share a wish list, discover products they did not know existed, exchange shopping tips with others, make more informed buying decisions, and even show off their sense of style.

Social Shopping on Merchant Websites

The use of social shopping is not relegated to third-party sites. Thanks to ratings and review services — such as Power Reviews and BazaarVoice, or social sign-on capabilities by Facebook — merchants can incorporate social shopping elements into their own ecommerce sites.

Conclusion

Social shopping provides a way for buyers and sellers to interact in a more transparent manner. Newer versions of social shopping sites rely on recommendations of friends to increase sales.

Paul Chaney
Paul Chaney
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Comments ( 5 )

  1. jmslau February 9, 2011 Reply

    I am the founder of Giffr Inc., and we are also in the social shopping space. We have just launched a social Q&A site dedicated to shopping at http://giffr.com/ yesterday. Although Q&A sites are not new, we think a Q&A site that’s dedicated to shopping and has constant monitoring to answer members’ questions will provide unique value.

  2. Jeff Oster February 10, 2011 Reply

    I read this article and visited the social shopping sites, but I’m scratching my head…as an e-commerce business, how can I use this information to my benefit? Putting on my black hat, I could spam these sites…nah. Putting on my white hat, I could do what? Ask customers to talk about us on social shopping sites? Any other ideas as to how web based retailers could be more active in social shopping sites?

  3. Addoway February 10, 2011 Reply

    Hey Jeff,

    Definitely get where you are coming from and why you are scratching your head. Hopefully I can shed some light for you and for others. The real problem is that too many people correlate social shopping with spamming your Twitter page or Facebook page with items you are selling. In actuality the ROI of this method in the long term is very minuscule.

    Or they think about Amazon and how they just show you what your friends might want so you can buy it for them. This won’t help you either as a eCommerce seller, because the chances your products are going to be shown are small too.

    I can speak for Addoway in letting you know that we are using the Social Graph to help shoppers make more trustworthy decisions online by either seeing how they are connected to a future seller or through transparency, but seeing the sellers social status online (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) and even all the places they sell. The real benefit of social shopping is the ability to build trust and advocacy among your past, current and future buyers. When you let them see who the person is behind the brand you are giving them an opportunity to relate to you and then they have no reservation from buying from you. And with Addoway we archive all the purchases, so as your build a following those followers will be able to see that someone they knew bought something from you immediately making them feel confident in your ability to deliver.

    Hope this helps.
    Fredrick

  4. Jeff Oster February 14, 2011 Reply

    Thanks for your explanation, Frederick.

    We’re going to try an experiment around our shop. We’re going to put a flyer in each of our outgoing packages with a request for our customers to participate in a social shopping site of their choice and comment about their experience with our e-commerce site. We can track comments with Google alerts, tracking the name of our website.

    I’ll see if we can make Addoway a part of that flyer.

    Jeff

  5. Vipul February 22, 2011 Reply

    Jeff I checked out all the social shopping sites that you have mentioned. Out of which only two websites that impressed me were http://www.shopsocial.ly and http://www.blippy.com because they get social graph in my shopping. With help of http://www.shopsocial.ly friends can recommend me stuff and share my purchases with my friends on facebook and twitter and also I read unbiased reviews on http://www.blippy.com which do help me take better decisions when I m shopping.

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