Over the past years, the rise of social media has disrupted many businesses and has lead to unavoidable changes in the market (Rigby, 2010). Companies are not only shifting their stores online, but they need to add social features in order to maintain a competitive advantage. This phenomenon is called social commerce. A lot of research has been conducted on the business benefits, online purchasing behavior, website elements and consumers’ needs in order to create tools and strategies for social commerce.
In his paper ‘The Future of Shopping’ Rigby (2011) addresses this disruption and proposes several reactions for traditional retailers. He suggests that businesses need to combine the physical and the digital landscapes in order to create the optimal shopping environment (Rigby, 2011). Zhu et al (2010) agree with this statement and elaborate on the concept of collaborative shopping, which is the most important component when shopping in a physical environment but can also be applied to the digital world through navigation systems and communication support. Marsden (2010) points out the widely shared strategy of ‘putting water coolers next to tills’ and ‘putting tills next to water coolers’, meaning that companies can either let people connect where they buy or allowing them to buy where they connect. He also explains theories on how to optimize the use of social features and how various elements influence the decision-making process of the consumers, such as power and authority (Marsden, 2010). However, there are many more factors that influence the purchasing behavior of consumers, such as the needs of consumers (Huan et al, 2013), the strength of various networks (Jian et al 2014 & Rapp et al, 2013), design features (Huan et al, 2014) and customer loyalty (Lian et al, 2011).
These tools and strategies can be illustrated by the cases of Fashion ID and Modcloth, fashion retailers who have added social features to their e-commerce website. Fashion ID connects to a social network (Facebook) to ask for friends’ opinions and Modcloth integrates an interactive tool to vote outfits into production. Thus, Fashion ID relies on a strong and highly influential network, collaborative shopping and emotional support, whereas Modcloth relies on their customer loyalty, similar characteristics of their users and unique design features in order to increase purchases. All social commerce tools display different strengths and weaknesses, but, as the articles suggest, implementing social commerce can in fact never be a weakness and can only contribute to a company’s success.
List of Sources
- Huang Z., Benyoucef M. 2013. From e-commerce to social commerce: A close look at design feature. Journal of Electronic Commerce Research and Applications, 12, 246-259.
- Huang Z., Benyoucef, M. 2014. User preferences of social features on social commerce websites: An empirical study. Journal of Technological Forecast and Social Change. Source: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.techfore.2014.03.005
- Jiang G., Ma, F., Shang H., Chau P.Y.K. 2014. Evolution of knowledge sharing behavior in social commerce: An agent-based computational approach. Journal of Information Sciences, 238, 250-266.
- Liang, T.P., Ho, Y., Li, Y. Efraim, T. 2011. What drives social commerce: The Role of Social Support and Relationship Quality. Journal of Electronic Commerce. Source: http://mesharpe.metapress.com/content/dx86j20g61vn30t4/
- Marsden, P. 2010. Social commerce: Monetizing social media. Syzygy Group. White Paper. http://socialcommercetoday.com/documents/Syzygy_2010.pdf
- Rapp A., Beitelspacher, L.S., Grewal D., Hughes, D.E. Understanding social media effects across seller, retailer and consumer interactions. Academy of Marketing Science, 41, 547-566. DOI: 10.1007/s11747-013-0326-9
- Rigby, D. 2011. The future of shopping. Harvard Business Review 89(12) 64-75.
- Zhu, L., Benbasat, I., and Jiang, Z. 2010. Let’s shop online together: An Empirical investigation of collaborative online shopping support. Information Systems Research 21(4) 872-891.