Shopping is a social activity and more and more retailers are realizing that they need to embrace social computing (or the “groundswell” as explained in an excellent must-read book by the same name by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff). Offline, people don’t change behaviors quickly, so companies can develop loyal customers. Online, people can switch behaviors as soon as they see something better. People are not just buying online; they are buying from each other. They are comparing prices all over the internet and telling each other where to get the best deals. Shelf space creates far less power when there’s nearly infinite selection online (Chris Anderson in The Long Tail)
The latest issue of Stores magazine has an interesting article on the impact of Facebook on Retail. See the article at CLICK HERE.
Denver-based bSocial Networks has developed Market Lodge, which enables social network users to build personalized online stores within their profiles in less than five minutes, turning social networks into online "bazaars" with members recommending, buying and selling products.
Wishlist, an application from U.K.-based Affiliate Window, allows retailers to add a Facebook link to each of the products offered on their websites. Wishlist is a fun way for friends to recommend things to one another and for individuals to create a list of things they want. The system is built on a 'Social Rewards' basis which means Facebook users can earn pocket money by using and promoting the Wishlist application amongst their friends. Wishlist turns Facebook users into affiliates. The application allows a merchant to break their products in to Facebook.
I was fortunate to meet with two other companies that are heavily into social shopping: WetSeal and Bevy. I had the opportunity to hear Kevin Foreman, CEO of Bevy, speak at the Facebook Developers Garage in Seattle a few weeks ago. I think Bevy is onto something really exciting and enables women to discuss and discover fashion through their networks thus filling a void that search engines cannot fulfill. I love the fact that they cross retailer boundaries and work across their partner base that includes Macys, Nordstrom, Guess and more. This morning, I co-presented with John Kubo, CIO of Wetseal at a WWD webinar. The Wet Seal Fashion Community allows you to create, publish, rate, and buy outfits created by you and your peers.