What is Social Commerce?
Social commerce is a relatively new scientific field that involves several professional and academic disciplines.Although social commerce refers to e-commerce transactions delivered via social media, there is no agreed-upon definition or description of the content and boundaries of the social commerce area.
The “misconception” of Social Commerce
There is a common belief that social commerce is just about promoting a product or services on popular social media networks and implementing social interaction features on e-commerce website (such as like, tweet or share buttons, social login,social comment system etc.). But social commerce is much more than that.
Majority of e-marketing experts consider social commerce to be a subcategory of ecommerce. To be more precise, it’s an amalgamation of e-commerce, online marketing, social media content and complementary applications (web and mobile). This combination is supported by many scientific theories: social psychology, online collaboration and consumer behaviour, resulting in a collection of useful online tools that drive social commerce. While this definition of social commerce as a marketing form that uses social media networks extensively in most or all of its activities is widely acceptable, in this article we will look at it from a totally different angle.
A new form of social media
There is an emerging trend and a relatively new e-commerce concept, which connects consumers and retailers in a large online social commerce marketplace. It is based on the emergence and growing popularity of social networking, online tools and mobile apps, all of which are socially-focused. These online marketplaces, emphasize valuable marketing assets such as trusted advice, word of mouth and buying with opinions and assistance of friends.
According to Olivier Toubia, professor of Business at Columbia Business School, this distinguished social commerce niche model could be described as a form of social media that allows consumers to participate actively in the marketing and selling of services and products in online based communities and marketplaces.
To illustrate this distinguished ecommerce model, we have selected five well-designed and highly successful niche websites with a different take on social commerce.
Although Fancy.com has a similar look to Pinterest, it is very distinct and unique social commerce network. Think of it as Amazon, Facebook and Pinterest combined into one platform. Joseph Einhorn, Fancy’s chief executive officer, once said that he wanted Fancy to be a “‘newer version” of Amazon. Website allows users to upload products that they like or “fancy”, as well as to create wish lists, discover and “fancy” other products uploaded by people they follow (similar to Facebook’s News Feed).
Canopy.co is a social commerce niche website, primarily focusing on Amazon products. It’s a website and mobile application where users are able to add products from Amazon and see product recommendations from other Canopy users. This beautifully designed social commerce platform has a large, design-focused community and is an excellent place to discover unique, online trending products. Canopy was the first of its kind, using a clever monetization concept of combining Amazon’s affiliate program and social commerce, which was later on used by many others: Thieve.co (curated list of products form AliExpress.com), Repick.co, just to name a few.
Even Amazon, inspired by Canopy’s design and global success, created a page named “Interesting finds by Amazon” featuring new and interesting products from across Amazon.
According to Jemma Tadd, marketing director at Socialsuperstore.com, website is based on the idea to allow anyone in the world to be an entrepreneur without the traditional risks of starting a business. “This vision has enabled us to build a product which allows anyone to setup a store, add products from retailers and upload relevant content such as captions, reviews and photos to the products in their store, ” she said.
The success of community driven social commerce websites like Canopy.co or Fancy.com, signals a new and emerging trend in the field of e-commerce. We are living in the age of information and product overload. “As a result, we’ve increasingly come to rely not just on curated information, but on the people we most trust to curate this information for us in a way that resonates with our lifestyle, interests, and values,” said Stacy DeBroff, CEO and founder of Influence-Central, to the Forbes. “In 2017, consumers will be on a mission to find peer specialists with niche expertise to filter recommendations that meet their needs in a customized way,” she predicted.
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