Six Categories of Social Commerce

by / Thursday, 14 November 2013 / Published in E-Commerce

Social commerce exists in the same realm as omnichannel and millennials. All three are deemed important, if not essential. Yet stop a meeting when one of these terms arises, ask for a definition and it’s likely you’ll land in debate. Best case scenario is a debate. Worst case, we’re all throwing around terms that haven’t been fully thought through.

Social commerce, the meeting stops here. Debate me but here’s how I see it…

First and foremost: The best commerce is inherently social. Great shopping spurs sharing. Technology has upped the ante on the where, when and why social occurs in commerce.

We at Fluid are seeing six categories of social commerce – on a continuum from simple to seamless infusion. They are as follows:

1. The Option to Share: Integration of social sharing options is expected and assumed in digital commerce. Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are the usual cast of social icons. More advanced sites house the ability to favorite within the site or share with yourself via text to mobile.

Example: The North Face includes social sharing options on the product detail page – displaying Facebook, G+ and Pinterest, with more available on click.

2. Social Infused Onto Site: Using a feed, this literally brings social to a site or mobile experience. From scrolling #hashtags to ratings and reviews to Facebook comments. What’s directly impacting conversion? Social imagery. Think Instagram photos and Vine videos – from the homepage to the PDP.

Example: Nasty Gal uses the #nastygal hashtag to pull Instagram photos to their site. They are featured in “The Click” and on product detail pages.

3. A View Into Individual Activity: This is making interactions with your brand transparent – so that social activity is palpable. It can be real-time, like the BFF feed on Charlotte Russe’s site, or infused into site features, like Rent the Runway visual reviews.

Example: Rent the Runway customers share images of themselves in their rented dresses – which serves as the ultimate review (and indicator of fit).

4. Site as it’s Own Social Network: Brands are creating their own social experiences within their sites by letting users connect with each other. This is prevalent in verticals with coveted products (fashion) and technical or niche passions (outdoor gear + electronics).

Example: Going beyond “Like” or “Want” lets users “Fancy” items on their site – and across the web using a browser-based Fancy button.

5. Six Degrees of Separation: This is social as indistinguishable from the digital experience. In fact, social defines the experience. It relies on social sign-on and then uses open API data to reveal your friend activity.

Example: TripAdvisor proactively uses social data to market to users based on their behavior – and the behavior of your social network.

6. Social-Sourced Shopping: This is the pinnacle of social shopping. Experiences here would not exist at all if users didn’t socially curate items. We’re talking Wanelo, Polyvore, etsy and Svpply. Users are the merchants and items trend based on site activity.

Example: Socially sourced products trend on Wanelo and users curate their own feed based on Wants, Needs and Likes.

Two things we think will rise:

1. Commerce in the moment of being social: For example, WillCall is a ticket buying app that also allows you to tip a band or buy merchandise during a concert. Social occasions spur in-the-moment buying. Mobile makes immediate action possible. This is exciting.

2. Shared buying: This is about total purchase price split out amongst a group of people. Think joint gifts or collective buying that facilitates social conversation and ease of conversion.


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