What is social shopping? It's essentially a mashup that resembles social bookmarking, social networking and comparison shopping in a blender. A bunch of flavors of social shopping websites have popped up as of late, creating a great opportunity for online retailers to engage in some low-cost word-of-mouth marketing.
We've hunted down a number of different sites that you can submit your retail products to, and provided a brief summary of each site's features. Since you never know where a sale is going to come from, it's worth it to get into as many of these sites as you can and track which bring success and which are just a hassle.
Social Shopping Bookmarking Sites (or "Social Wishlists")
These sites allow you to bookmark, tag, share and even blog products you like. Some allow you to join groups or even earn revenue from your picks.
Here’s a tip: if you’re going to submit your own products – tag with reckless abandon. Browse popular tags for ideas (as they will be surfed often) and also more targeted, specific terms, to maximize your likelihood of being found using search boxes.
|Join groups, create wishlists, email products to friends, add product lists to your blog or MySpace.|
|Add a bookmarklet to your browser and off you go. Search for products by category and user lists, add friends, join groups and comment on products and people. Kaboodle auto-creates product descriptions when you bookmark items.|
|Wists||Wists (weblists - get it?) gives users a way to keep all their wishlists in one place, rather than in each individual e-store. The description copy and paste may seem tedious but gives you more control than Kaboodle's autogenerated description. And if you want to encourage bookmarking, Wists' got a chicklet. See Wists in action.|
|Style Hive||In addition to the typical bookmark / add comments / join groups / add friends options, you can also “follow” your friends or random stranger style mavens a la Twitter. And they’ve included a social media 1.0 feature: a forum.|
|Bookmark products, email to friends, and subscribe to RSS feeds of other users' picks. Doesn't look like you can add friends -- yet. There’s 2 ways you can add your product: enter the name, URL, or UPC code of the item or add a browser icon and bookmark a product from it’s product page. And you can “Shopcast” by adding a badge or feed of your list to your blog. Kudos to the designers, the|
|desiresin||Lacks the social features like adding a community, but you can tag your items. Unfortunately it’s attracting a lot of irrelevant spam that appears at the top of all product listings (with no images) and the design is nothing compared to other sites, nevertheless a site to submit products to.|
|Social by virtue of being a wiki, add a product, subscribe to RSS feeds, tap items as “love it,” “want it” and "have it."|
Social Deals and Coupons Sites
|dealplumber||Find deals on specific items, browse posted coupon codes and special offers from Dealplumber's database, or post your product or affiliate product coupons. "Free Stuff" and "Free Shipping" categories, too.|
|Free listings for merchants, woot-woot! Add a button to your bookmarks toolbar or submit your deals here one by one. Join groups, tag, browse, and keep your peeps updated with Twitter tweets.|
|Dealbundle||Submit deals, rate, surf, repeat. You can also earn revenue when people click on AdSense around your posted deals. (Sounds like an invitation for click fraud...) This site is really in its infancy, with not many deals, categories or members, but a one to watch.|
|Just like Dealcritic, but with much better organization/categories, and options to subscribe to RSS feeds for hot deals, all deals and freebies. Plus Dealspl.us runs giveaway contests.|
Social Comparison Engines
Now for some gray-area social shopping sites. The following are comparison engines which have either social shopping features, or a free way of submitting your own products to them, and thus being worthy of honorable mention here for etailers looking to cast a broad net over sites that we believe are going to take off.
|like.com||A visual search engine that lets you zoom in on a detail of a product and see similar items based on colour, shape, pattern, price etc. Categories include watches, shoes, handbags, jewellery, clothing. Etailers can add individual products, or email to submit a feed or link. Helps if you have an affiliate program, you may pay per click or per sale, Like.com supports both models.|
|This ain't your Grandma's online craft fair. Modern Etsy exlusively lists hand made products, with a whack of Web 2.0 goodies that makes Etsy so sticky -- including the Geolocator and Shop by Color. Users can create their own lists in the Treasury. Merchants get a free username.etsy.com account for free, and can list products for $0.20 per quantity, with a 3.5% of sales fee. Listings live for 4 months.|
|Crowdstorm||Crowdstorm is like MySpace, Digg and Shopping.com in a blender. You can build your social network, "Recommend" products (Digg-style voting system) and search and browse products like any comparison shopping engine. It's easy to submit products, but here's the catch -- users will be directed to Amazon or Ebay to make a purchase. So this works best if you're an etailer already using these channels.|
|Sound like a place to unload your Redwings Bobblehead collection? Think again. Hawkee is a social network for tech afficianados where you’ll find user-posted coupons and deals, product reviews and code snippets in addition to comparison shopping. Hawkee uses feeds direct from retailers, not from other shopping engines so drop them a line for more info on getting listed.|
|fivelimes||Fivelimes is an eco-friendly shopping community where you can find sustainable products and services. Browse by categories (no tags), shop locally or browse reviews. Submit a product URL you know about, or join the Vendor Program which works on a cost-per-click basis.|
|Shopwiki||Crawls the web picking up products from etailers on its own. Unfortunately some products are outdated. Really cool color search feature. Doesn't accept merchant product feeds but you can add your e-store URL here. Or read more about getting listed.|
|yub.com||The social sister of comparison engine Buy.com, at Yub (Buy in reverse) you can shop for over 6 million products, receive cash-back discounts, and shop with your friends. Write reviews and earn commissions when users buy through you. The Meet People feature is tres MySpace. Another reason to get listed in the Buy.com marketplace.|
|usuggest||Site looks great, but not the most intuitive site to figure out (what's the "Download" for?). You can earn 25-50% affiliate commission on products "suggested" from the Usuggest merchant database. Tagline is "Shoppers Helping Shoppers" but may end up more like "affiliates selling to affiliates"...and we know affiliates will always buy from themselves. Needs a widget to post to blog to market outside of the community. Unfortunately no information on how to add your products to their network.|
Definitely are interesting space to watch and we are all curious about how the social shoposphere will evolve, however more awareness among the general public is needed. So go sign up and tell ten friends!
Did we miss your favorite site? Something you want someone to build? What missing from social commerce site? What's the real value? Drop us a comment to share your experiences with social shopping.