The way I bought the Social Commerce book is a good example of how social commerce works.

I read a review of the book while browsing one of the blogs I visit daily on the subject of social commerce. I clicked the Amazon link and quickly download the book to my Kindle. It was a simple, recommendation-based buy (and instant satisfaction).

Now that I’ve read the book here I am sharing my review online. Some of you might will read it and become interested in buying the book based on my recommendation (it’s worth it). The social commerce process starts again driving even more sales and reviews.

Social commerce is the integration of the social web, where we talk about the products and services we like and e-commerce, where we can quickly buy them. The Social Commerce book gives a good overview of  all the services and business models that are pushing this integration forward and how they are basically changing the way we buy online.

Social Commerce Techniques & Examples

The author does a nice job of explaining what is social commerce and describing some of the best concepts, techniques and services that are part of this integration of the social web and e-commerce. Here’s a summary:

  • Group buying as in services where people buy together or get discounts. Services like Groupon which is probably the most famous example and also Woot bought by Amazon and certainly one of the most creative.
  • Social shopping as in services where consumers can share products and opinions that end up driving sales. Polyvore is one of the best examples allowing their users to create montages of fashion items and share them with their friends on social networks.
  • Affiliate marketing as the model that pays some social shopping services a fee for every sale (or shopper) that is sent to an online shop via a specific link.
  • Purchase sharing as in services that consumers can use to share their purchases either to get feedback or get rewards for their buys. Interesting concepts include Blippy or Swipely.
  • P2P commerce as the service model where communities of buyers and sellers get together to share their products. Examples here include the famous Craigslist and the (great) crafts marketplace Etsy. Also mentioned services where products are co-created and sold on the same place.
  • Social layer services (my name) as in services that provide a social layer (reviews, profiles and recommendations) to existing online shops. Bazaarvoice and Powereviews are some of the providers in this area.
  • Social Marketing as the new open relationship being established between brands and consumers. Zappos (bought by Amazon) is obviously one of the best examples on how to engage with clients and integrate marketing as part of customer service.
  • Selling on Social Networks as the act of selling directly on social networks using an integrated online shop. Examples include of course Facebook and so called f-commerce.

Other social commerce services that I highly recommend as examples of innovation of community and e-commerce integration are the active knitting social network and patterns marketplace Ravelry and Threadless (mentioned in the book) which is an ongoing t-shirt contest mixing co-creation, community and e-commerce (also check a French service called La Fraise).

Semantic Web

One of the most interesting chapters of the book is the one about the Semantic Web. The author explains how the technologies behind the semantic can be used to provide more data to services and consumers. Data that will help systems get better by automatically exchanging information between them and ultimately with their costumers.

MicroformatsGoogle Rich Snippets, GoodRelationshtml5 (specially its video integration), the Facebook Like button and ActivityStreams are all interesting and future-looking technologies mentioned as examples in this chapter and well worth exploring more about.

Open questions on Social Commerce

Social Commerce is a new and fast changing field and that’s probably the reason why the author seems to have some difficulty grouping services, techniques and business models into categories. It’s also probably why one of the final chapters raises 4 important questions which the author tries to address leaving the door open for the reader to imagine what the future can be:

  • Big question #1: Will merchants allow consumer data to be shared with other services? (allowing for buying actions and intentions to be shared).
  • Big question #2: Up to which point will consumer data be shared? (and what interesting services can be built with that data).
  • Big question #3: What will be the new business models? (reverse auctions, entertainment shopping, dynamic pricing and product subscriptions (examples include Raz*War and Manpacks).
  • Big question #4: Centralized or distributed Web? (how does this affect social commerce systems?).

Social Commerce is a written in French by Julien Chaumond (who’s behind new social commerce application Prodcast). Overall it’s a nice overview of the social commerce area even if it’s not very organized (understandable up to a point due to the fast-evolving pace of social commerce). It’s well worth the $8 (Kindle edition on Amazon) for the overview, research and the many examples.

Social Commerce and Wine

The books ends with the idea that Social Web entrepreneurs are deeply interested in social commerce since it helps to develop more solid and scalable business models. Social Wine online is one of those areas constantly searching for sustainable business models. Moreover, social wine commerce can be the solution to some of the problems with wine online. It can help connect consumers, wineries and other wine professionals which certainly ends up driving wine sales.

A follow up post will address Social Commerce in Wine and include examples of what is currently being done.

7 thoughts on “A book on Social Commerce

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