Friday, March 11, 2011

Social Commerce

A lot of initiatives have been undertaken in social commerce lately. Now that brands are more familiar with social media, they may gain an expertise in web 2.0, and therefore go beyond the simple conversation with customers to turn it into a retail channel. I read this very interesting article about it.

What makes it so interesting is that it gives you examples on how to use efficiently social commerce in an original way, not by simply plugging your e-commerce site into Facebook…

Why Social Commerce Can Be So Attractive?

I have been working in the real estate business in the United States, and one of the thing I learned and I actually loved in the customer relationship management field is the “by referral business” idea. The idea is to leverage your customers’ network of friend, family and co workers, in order to find new prospects.

I don't know if you are familliar with the concept of tribal marketing, but as humans are social creatures, they like to do things like their "social environment", and hence, if your friends buy something, you tend to buy somehow the same...

And when I see the new features developed in order to give social commerce a lift, I see a lot of the same component: Recommendation, being social and spread the word of mouth.

And I believe this is one of the key factors of success for social commerce: Being able to sell more, thanks to friends recommendations.

What Is The Purpose Of Facebook
Now there are still some unanswered questions about what would be the used of Facebook for brand management and customer relationship management. Indeed, we already know the use of Facebook for customer relationship management. A lot of companies are already using Facebook to converse with customers. This is what we can call an “emotional aspect” of the customer relationship management strategy.

But now, the goal of social commerce is to turn Facebook into a market place, and hence to have more a retail strategy, or “transactional”. Can be both accomplished? Yes, it can without any questions. We have seen that Facebook can become a very important retailing channel, and I have no doubts it may be very profitable. But can you do both?

One of the response may be that retailers could own several different accounts, in order to segment their stakeholders, and then have specific accounts for:

  • Chatting with customers

  • “VRM”: Having customers asking about specific products with a specific prices, and then the brand responding.

  • Customer service

  • Retailing

I believe this is probably what may happen, especially as a lot of the major actors in Facebook already have different Fan pages on it.

What do you think about it?