Online shopping has made purchasing products almost impossibly easy—shoppers don’t have to leave the comfort of their home, and they can fill up their virtual carts and checkout with just a few button clicks. However, one problem with online shopping is that it’s a solitary activity with no social interaction, right? In this post you can learn how to use social media marketing, online shopping and social market places to promote your business products.
Actually, online shopping doesn’t have to be an isolated activity, thanks to popular social marketplaces like Etsy and Buyosphere. More and more, e-commerce sites are beginning to integrate social aspects into their shopping experience because they’ve realized that consumers enjoy interacting with other shoppers who share their interests, reading reviews, and influencing product lines.
What Social Marketplaces Are All About
Online social marketplaces are platforms with a two-way exchange between buyers and sellers. For example, some marketplaces allow independent merchants to post their products and directly communicate with buyers. Other marketplaces are integrated into companies’ existing e-commerce sites and feature just one brand, but allow shoppers to vote on designs that they like or even suggest new products.
Part of the appeal of social marketplaces lies in the fact that buyers and sellers are able to directly communicate, building trust and brand loyalty as a result. Buyers are able to feel like they’re playing a pivotal role in shaping the products they’re purchasing, while merchants are getting valuable feedback on their products and seeing more repeat customers.
How Can Businesses Benefit from Social Marketplaces?
There are several different ways that businesses can use social marketplaces. First, a business can focus on developing a social marketplace platform that others can use, like eBay. In this type of situation, the business will need to attract both buyers and sellers in order to be successful. Most social marketplace start-ups that have done well started out offering niche products (for example, Etsy started out with craft supplies and tools) and have expanded to include more categories as they’ve become more popular.
Another way that businesses can benefit from social marketplaces is by offering their own products on these sites. For example, if you’re a niche fashion retailer, you might consider offering products on a site like Buyosphere. If you produce unique crafts, Etsy might be the best venue for you. If you plan to do this, the key is to find the social marketplace that will most appeal to your target audience and fit with your own company’s sensibilities.
Finally, you can benefit from social marketplaces by incorporating a social aspect into your own ecommerce site. For example, the online fashion retailer Threadless has done very well for themselves by connecting t-shirt designers to customers and allowing customers to choose the designs that they want to see produced. As a result, they sell out of almost every line they produce. Adding a social aspect to your ecommerce site is a great way to encourage customer engagement and to make sure that you’re creating the products that buyers truly want.
Examples of Social Marketplace Sites
airbnb is all about letting users purchase experiences. Essentially, the site serves as a community marketplace where people can both list and book unique accommodations around the world, from apartments to treehouses to castles to houseboats. Hosts can set their own price point and end up netting most of the profit themselves.
Buyosphere appeals to fashion lovers by allowing users to create their own style guides based on the products offered on the site, or to browse style guides created by other users. Community members can also make recommendations or ask other users for advice on finding specific items. The site offers products from both individual designers and retailers with unique styles.
Copious lets anyone buy and sell merchandise and is a competitor with eBay, but sets itself apart by requiring users to connect their Copious account with Facebook or Twitter so that everyone using the site can learn more about the people they’re doing business with.
One of the most well-known examples in this category, eBay humbly began by marketing Pez dispensers and has since grown into the world’s largest online marketplace. Last year, they added social features such as Curators (tastemakers and celebrities who users can follow to see their purchases) and featured goods on the eBay Today page.
Although it’s primarily known as a homemade craft site, Etsy allows users to buy and sell any kind of handmade goods, vintage items, or craft supplies. Merchants can create their own ecommerce “shops” for free, but Etsy charges $0.20 to list an item for 4 months, and they take a 3.5% fee from the final sale price.
Kickstarter is a crowd-sourced site that allows users to fund-raise for their creative projects, such as music albums, independent films, and games. Users can create a project page and offer rewards to other users who donate a certain amount of money to help them reach their goal.
Although it started out offering local dining discounts and restaurant reviews, ScoutMob has recently pivoted and is now focusing on offering artistic e-commerce products, like jewelry, food, and clothes from independent local merchants.
Zaarly lets local service providers post on their site, and users searching for services like house cleaning, lawn care, and handmade goods can search for service providers in their area. Service providers are evaluated by Zaarly Tastemakers, community members who offer their feedback and recommendations.