Getting Social Media into the eCommerce Loop
By Rick Moss
“Social commerce” is
a term that may be new to many, although a Wikipedia article claims it
entered the lexicon in late 2005, coined by venture capitalist David Beisel.
Originally, references were limited to third-party recommendation and review
sites, but the term now encompasses “collaborative commerce activities
such as social shopping (co-browsing), collaborative purchasing (collective
buying power), collaborative filtering (social recommendations), and collaborative
funding (e.g. Crowdfunder),” according to the Wikipedia entry.
For most e-retailers,
the combination of “social” and “commerce” is decidedly aspirational. Many
retailers include product reviews, ratings and employee blogs on their
websites, but they find it hard enough to manage the content, let alone
find ways to quantify the commercial benefits.
At the NRF BIG
Show last week, Bazaarvoice was demonstrating its “social commerce suites,” geared
toward turning social media content into tangible
business for retailers. Bazaarvoice offers its solutions
in SaaS (software as a service) form. The
company hosts the engine that integrates the user- and employee-created
content into the retailers’ sites. Content in the retailer suite can take
various forms: the “Ratings & Reviews” module manages customer opinions; “Ask & Answer” enables
a pre-sale dialog with the retail staff as well as other customers; and “Stories” is
for long-form content, generally from reviewers or from employees offering
how-to advice. There is another
entire suite designed for brands to improve channel sales based with Bazaarvoice-collected
Control — for
both the customers and retailers — is fundamental to many of the innovations
being seen in the social commerce area. Bazaarvoice offers online shoppers
the ability to filter reviews by various criteria. A customer could, for
example, bring all of the reviews to the top of the list written by those
who share their interests or demographic traits. Retailers are given a
variety of content management tools and can present social content to shoppers
based on their browsing and purchase histories.
A higher level
of integration is also seen in the ability of Bazaarvoice products to push
content out to Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. In its
demo, for example, the company showed how a customer interested in a product
on a retailer website could,
without leaving the product page, poll her Facebook account for “friends” who
had reviewed the product.
the piece of the social commerce puzzle retailers are most anxious for
is the ability to aggregate insights from all the social content being
generated. Encouraging shoppers to share opinions and experiences may improve
trust and loyalty, but it’s likely the “social” will earn the right to
be paired with the “commerce” when retailers learn how to make use of all
this information that’s being shared with them and others.
Questions: What do you see as being necessary to leverage social media
for improved online sales? Do you believe retailers will be able to “manage
the conversation” among and with their customers, or is it intrinsically
out of their control?