sCommerce is a subcategory of ecommerce – or electronic commerce. In other words, it applies to selling online but in a very specific category.
Here, the ‘S’ stands for ‘social’ and so the focus is on selling through social media. That means selling through Facebook, through Twitter or through other online platforms that have a strong social angle.
Really though, social commerce is more in-depth and complicated than that. What social commerce is really about, is leveraging the power of social in order to sell. In other words, using the power of social influence, of recommendations and of other social signals that can be powered online.
Using Social Commerce
That all sounds great on paper but what does social commerce actual entail in a real sense?
Normally, social commerce can be split into two different categories:
Onsite Social Commerce
Onsite social commerce essentially describes the process of retailers building social sharing and other social functions into their websites. For example, it means allowing users to share their purchases online and thereby show off the things they’ve bought. Companies like Zazzle allow this.
Another example is Fab.com, which gives a live feed of what shoppers are buying at any given time – much like being able to see people move around through the store.
A more straightforward and simple example might be to simply add a comments section or a forum to an online store, such that your customers could discuss purchases with each other or ask you questions.
Offsite Social Commerce
As you might expect, ‘offsite social commerce’ refers to social commerce that occurs not on the page of the business. Instead, this apples to everything that takes place on Facebook, on Twitter, on Pinterest or on other sites.
This tool is in some ways less powerful than onsite methods. A recent poll suggested that only 2% of Facebook users for instance have ever bought directly through the site. Then again though, when you consider that Facebook has 1.5 billion users, that is still a big number.
What’s more, off-site sCommerce can be used in conjunction with on-site and in the longer term, to build more engagement, brand recognition and social influence around your products.
In short then, social commerce remains for now a rather vague and abstract concept. However, that is not to say that it isn’t also a concept that is very much worth learning and exploring for businesses.
Some Examples of Social Commerce in Action
Social commerce means adding a social element of some kind to the traditional eCommerce business model. Social commerce includes the use of reviews, of social recommendations and of community features for online stores. There are a ton of possible benefits of social commerce but to get the most from it, you need to be creative in how you implement it. Read on and we’ll look at some great examples of businesses that have been creative in this way and that have seen a lot of success as a result.
Amazon’s Wish Lists
Amazon’s wish lists allow users to curate items that they want and then share them with others. This way, a friend or family member need never be at a loss for what to buy them. At the same time, items that have been bought will be removed from the list thus preventing the same thing from being bought twice (though the user doesn’t see this unless they try to buy that item). It’s a fantastic system that solves a real problem that some shoppers have had in the past. As a result, many people now use it to make their birthday, Christmas and wedding lists and Amazon has no doubt gained a lot of sales as a result.
Head onto the Google Play store to buy an app and you might notice that reviews are linked to Google+ accounts. While this annoyed some users at the time, it’s actually a very smart move from Google’s perspective as it allows you to see reviews from your friends and relatives. These reviews of course hold much more clout than reviews from strangers (especially with the profile picture right there) and as such Google has no doubt significantly increased its sales.
When you go shopping in real life for clothes, you will very often take a friend who can then give advice on what looks good and what’s in fashion. ‘Fashism’ is a website that gives you that same ability by providing a chat feature that allows you to talk with friends while you shop. It has been very popular and is likely a sign of things to come!
Etsy is the ultimate in peer to peer shopping and has essentially allowed creative types around the world to set up businesses from their homes that they would never otherwise have been able to run. This is an example of social commerce making people’s lives better – and making Etsy money in the process!