According to Hitwise analyst, Heather Dougherty "The Social Shopping category is still small, receiving less than 1% of the total market share of US visits, but there has been significant growth." (Source)
Scott Hurff of CSE Strategies puts it into perspective - MySpace receives about 2% of Internet traffic. So for every 2 hits on MySpace (or Facebook), someone's checking out a social shopping site. Of the social shopping sites, Kaboodle appears to be the Google in terms of market share:
- Kaboodle 68%
- Buzzillions 8.23% (Ratings and Reviews, Comparison Shopping)
- ThisNext 7.23%
- ShopWiki 6.89%
- Stylehive 5.18%
With the exception of Buzzillions, the top 5 are "social bookmarking" sites. There are no doubt countless other sites where consumers can bookmark and share products, deals and coupons, read ratings and reviews and find deals - and perhaps as many Facebook applications. We don't need a comprehensive list of players in this space. Rather, this year's roundup focuses on social shopping sites that address key trends in ecommerce like video / widget marketing, live chat, email / RSS, user-generated merchandising or offer a twist on traditional comparison shopping.
Video / Widget Marketing
Qoof provides product video widgets for etailers and content publishers (affiliates) to bring an interactive experience to product descriptions. The Flash-based widget can be embedded on the etailer's website or on the affiliate site. Transactions can actually be completed through the widget which eliminates the need for a shopping cart, or the customer can be directed to the online store to purchase. You can check out the Widget Showcase with examples from Ice.com, Drugstore.com and more.
What early adopters of this product may enjoy is the ability to stand out from other affiliate offers. Product video is growing in popularity, and it won't be long before most sites offer some kind of video complement to product images. You may also be more attractive to affiliates who are looking for multi-media content to boost their own conversions.
Whether customers like it or not is a different story. To be honest, there are not a lot of ecommerce widgets out there so I have my fingers crossed that there will be more interesting things being done with portable video content by this time next year, with more data on its effectiveness.
How to get involved: See Qoof.com's Etailer Page.
Live Chat / Co-Browsing
Pricing starts at $199/month but it appears a free version for small stores may become available soon.
How to get involved: Kick the tires for 15 days with the demo version.
Email Marketing / RSS
Istorez is an aggregator of email offers from a variety of online retailers. Rather than signing up for a ton of offers, customers can come and surf tags or build their personal "mall" that is like an RSS feed of stores or tags they like. Offers are viewed on-demand when the customer is in buying-mode, rather than when the email marketer decides to deliver it to the inbox.
Email marketers can expand their promotions' reach beyond the subscriber list, and e-stores can be discovered without customers using a search engine or clicking a link on another site.
To maximize exposure, advertisers should take advantage of thorough keyword tagging including the most popular tags "free shipping" and "going green," if relevant.
Retailers can create custom storefronts based on shopper segments and personas (show different offers to "bargain hunters" vs. "career girls.") An email marketing campaign is not required, retailers can just create storefronts, and reporting tools are provided.
Even if you're not an Istorez advertiser, there are a few ways ecommerce marketers can take advantage of Istorez:
- Email Campaign Intelligence - Surf by keyword tag to check out creative and copy of competing retailers, or browse by store to stay on top of campaigns and subject lines without subscribing to their list.
- Get Your Feet Wet With Personas - From the home page, Istorez users can select a persona that matches their shopping personality - and your marketing team can check them out to get ideas for developing your own customer personas.
- Blogger Outreach Discovery - Who are the key bloggers in your niche or on a specific topic? Istorez had a Mother's Day Offer feature which included a blogroll of mommy-bloggers. If your store or products cater to mothers in any way, you may want to investigate the networking opportunities here. Check out the featured blogs and make an initial contact with the bloggers.
Expect more shopping guides like this from Istorez in the future on different topics.
How to Get Involved: At this time you must contact sales [at] kriyari [dot] com for more information.
MyDeco is a niche social shopping network for home decorating in the UK. Its 1,000,000+ product database includes items from over 500 retailers. Users can choose items to include in 3D models of their dream room. The rooms are shared among the community and discussed, so non-artistic people can surf for interior decoration ideas, and unlike a home decor magazine, can purchase items in the room with one click.
The rooms themselves will form the content of a user’s profile, creating a social community around ‘rooms’. Each room design will (eventually) be shareable on Facebook, MySpace etc via widgets and applications. And MyDeco has an additional Etsy-like, micro-affiliate model. Any small interior design business or an individual can upload a room design. If someone buys a sofa from that design, that designer will get a small revenue share from that sale.
A similar site is Polyvore, where users can create fashion outfits with products from real retailers. These sites demonstrate the potential of user-generated cross-selling.
How to Get Involved: Check out the retailer page or Contact MyDeco
Bountii is a comparison search engine with a twist - it will find prices including taxes and shipping based on a user's zipcode (US only). This helps avoid sticker shock, and it's possible traffic from Bountii converts even higher than other comparison engines as customers already have chosen your offer from other retailers, knowing the final total.
What makes it social is Bountii offers a bounty for users who can sniff out lower prices.
"Bountii is based upon an affiliate model. John was quick to point out that no stores get preferential product placement in search results. Pricing information is obtained from merchants' sites and complemented with data from product feeds." Via CSE Strategies
How to Get Involved: So far only electronics and appliances are included in the database. Contact Bountii for more information.