We’re a long way away from a great shopping experience using social media. Web 2.0 brought us social buying – a transactional event, but we’re still a long way from true social shopping. I’ve been mulling this over and I’ve been looking around some of the social commerce sites mentioned at the event I went to in Palo Alto the other week. There are sites that have lots of innovation around social buying.
ModCloth is an example of one such innovation around socially involving the purchaser at a really early stage of the design process. They have a Be The Buyer program in which customers actually choose which designs get created.
When the design is finished you can be notified when the finished article will be on sale. You can also continue to vote on other proposed design ideas. This shows great innovation involving the customer and empowers the customer to make significant design decisions. Starbucks have a similar way of involving the customer and innovating in their stores. My Starbucks idea lets you submit an idea to Starbucks for them to decide to implement. Even if they don’t implement your idea, you still feel valued as a customer as they get back to you and tell you why they haven’t chosen it. Even a negative response shows that they have listened and have responded.
This sharing of ideas adds to the shopping experience. Social shopping enhances the shopping experience and really involves the community, driving value to the shopper.
Kiddicare in the UK has another way of fully involving the social shopper…
Kiddicare lets you tag products with your own definition. For example you can search for waterproof, absorbent, dry and leak proof nappies, or diapers. These tags have been created by the community – not the store – and they help customers find the products that they have categorised. This adds to the company knowledge base, searches for products are more intuitive than just trying to remember the brand name in the first place.
I think that we’re at an inflection point with social shopping, with a few pioneers showing how to really involve the customer and improve the community shopping experience. These social strategies from the pioneers in social commerce are able to connect customers to the buying experience and will create a momentum as more and more commerce sites find innovative ways to connect with their customers. It’s difficult to rise above the sea of sameness and create something that really stands out in the market, but improving the shopping experience for the customer, connecting the customer to the experience is the way that this is going to bring bold results. Involving the consumer in their shopping experience will ultimately drive value for the brand to refine their selling experience and give the customer what they actually want.
Food for thought, certainly