When it comes to shopping online it just seems more rewarding as a consumer to find out about products and ultimately purchase them through a shared network of friends and associates.
There is often a feeling of being in the know and also the reward of knowing you may have helped someone in your network find something they really needed.
There is also reciprocal pleasure in the reverse of that; being assisted by a friend or associate in finding a good value in an item or service you have been searching for.
The value is in the experience but how does that experience happen?
There are three main ways this occurs; open commerce (or open source e-commerce platforms) social commerce, and social networking. So what are these forms of commerce and ultimately, how do they help you as a consumer enjoy and get value out of your online shopping experience?
In part this deals with creating a user friendly platform for an online store. A good example of an open commerce platform is Facebook with its many apps. Users can interact with software and games that are owned by various publishers yet all within the Facebook site. You can like a page or a product, view their webpage, make or read comments, sometimes by people in your own social network or even make a purchase then click right back to your original page all in short time.
Consumers today are looking, sharing and buying online based on trusted social networks. This evolving behavior when it comes to purchasing goods and services necessitates that the process should not be troublesome in the least, otherwise the consumer will move on.
An abbreviated definition of social commerce is: the use of social networks in the process of ecommerce dealings.
This entails online merchants, likedaily deal sites interacting with consumers to draw them to products and services based on their interests at a discounted price. An extremely popular enterprise ecommerce platform model on many sites now is to show consumers the products people in their own network have purchased or suggested. The advantage falls both ways toward consumer and merchant. Customers have a greater connection to a product by way of a trusted resource in friends and the business or brand creates a more interesting way for a consumer to buy, thus engaging them. In turn this may encourage the consumer to stay on their site longer or better yet, return to it.
This is the point in which the entertainment factor comes in. Shopping has always been a social affair and there is no reason why shopping online should be any different. Paul Mardsen of socialcommercetoday.com ran a thread of comments from CEOs on the site regarding the future of ecommerce.
One stand-out expressed:
“The role of bricks and mortar is in the value of showrooms and entertainment qualities to places like Williams Sonoma. The ecommerce future is a fusion of entertaining showrooms + online satisfaction.”
Social networking is the practice of expanding the number of one’s business and or social contacts by making connections through individuals.
Social networking services are online platforms and sites which assist in creating relationships and networks between people who share varieties of things in common; allowing users to communicate and share events, interests and ideas among their personal networks.
When social media couples with online buying and selling this activity is called social commerce. The key to social commerce is in providing consumers the most streamlined connectivity in their online shopping experience without any technical snags.
Approximately three-quarters of the online connected community participate in social networking on one or more sites. Social media will progressively take on a vital role when it comes to providing a fulfilling and entertaining online shopping experience.
Melina Paris is a freelance writer from Los Angeles, CA.