As the landscape of social media changes (with Facebook as its barometer), ecommerce professionals have to face the decision of extending their social marketing and multiplying their influence into different channels.
Jon Provisor is co-owner and CTO of Guidance, which specializes in helping firms achieve the goal of marketing on social media sites. Here Provisor shares his knowledge of social commerce and Web 2.0.
PeC: How would you define social commerce?
Provisor: Social commerce involves integrating the best of Web 2.0 and social networking capabilities within an ecommerce website to create a community of enthusiastic consumers who will buy more, come back often and value greater engagement with the retailer.
PeC: How can social commerce applications encourage customer interest in a product or brand?
Provisor: When done right, this fusion of social and commerce transforms that retail site into a lively community of consumers who interact with each other and with the retailer. This promotes loyalty, increases sales and ignites enthusiasm and advocacy for the retailer’s brand.
PeC: What do consumers want from ecommerce sites? Do they want ecommerce to cross over into social media?
Provisor: To further understand what drives loyalty to ecommerce sites, Guidance partnered with Chicago market researcher Synovate to ask 1,000 online consumers, “When thinking about shopping online, what is most likely to make you return to a given shopping website?”
According to the study, conducted in March 2008, 35 percent of total respondents said they’re most likely to return to a shopping website if it makes recommendations on products or services for sale. Another 26 percent want ‘a unique experience each time’ they shop. Eighteen percent said they’re more likely to return ‘if the site solicits their feedback’ on its products and services. Sixteen percent said ‘a welcome when they arrive’ at the site is the factor most likely to make them return.
PeC: Should ecommerce merchants consider investing in the development of social-media applications and widgets?
Provisor: Absolutely, both on their sites and as part of their social media optimization strategy. By promoting your online store with web applications and widgets on social networking sites, social commerce becomes both a lead generator and a conversion tool, helping increase customer interest in a retailer’s products and its brand.”
PeC: Explain the use of online community as marketing strategy
Provisor: The best thing I can do is to give you an example. In October 2007, brick-and-mortar retailer A.C. Moore launched Acmoore.com, offering its selection of arts, crafts and floral merchandise online. Knowing that hobbyists love to share their experiences, questions and findings with other equally enthusiastic users, the company gradually rolled out a social commerce strategy for its online store. It began with user ratings and reviews, then added a forum where customers and arts and crafts enthusiasts can exchange ideas, discuss scrapbooking projects, share knit and crochet tips and ask general crafting questions. Consumers even get the opportunity to talk to A.C. Moore’s management.”
By 11 a.m. the day the forum launched, it had more than 2,000 registered users posting new topics, clicking on existing ones, but, more importantly, visiting the website and shopping. A.C. Moore is tapping into the passion that already exists among its customers and giving them a place to express that passion and share it with others.