As the world shifts to social, commerce is shifting as well. It used to be that one could open a product or a service store online, prepare a descriptive sales page, add a shopping cart and begin selling successfully. With the shift to social, traditional e-commerce is fast fading as the preferred mode in which people shop online. What is increasingly becoming necessary is that e-commerce is social. Social E-commerce or Social Commerce, as is increasingly becoming known as, is where e-commerce meets social.
According to Wikipedia, Social commerce is a subset of electronic commerce that involves using social media, online media that supports social interaction and user contributions, to assist in the online buying and selling of products and services. This definition could be even redefined as that Social Commerce is not just a subset of electronic commerce, but rather the preferred method, and very likely the only productive way of future electronic commerce.
So what exactly does Social Commerce mean? There are several characteristics that shape social e-commerce. Sellers desiring to implement social commerce into their trading could look at implementing the following themselves into their own sites, or could leverage social hubs or social marketplaces and begin trading their products and services.
The following characteristics define Social Commerce:
1. As against traditional e-commerce, in the world of Social Commerce, buyers make their decisions to buy or try a product or service, not based just on seller description, but rather based on social reviews by other users
2. Buyers of products and services actively participate in providing feedback and recommendations to friends and others in the community. As such, it becomes very important that the seller closely watches feedback and correct any flaws rapidly so as to cause a change in any negative feedback
3. Users of a Social Hub actively share what they like (and not like), mostly with just a click of the mouse, across various social bookmark locations and social networks. These include Twitter, Facebook, Delicious, Stumble Upon, Delicious etc. Social Commerce is Viral Commerce
4. Increasingly, Social Commerce is also tuned with Mobile Commerce. As such, offers are shared with Mobile QR codes and RSS or Atom feeds making it a snap to share offers, likes and dislikes
5. The user is presented not just with the offer from one Seller, but often with related offers from other Sellers, so the potential Buyer can make a conscious choice looking not just at one offer, but a portfolio of all available offers, complete with reviews, recommendations and ratings.
6. Pictures and Videos are an inherent part of the offer, thus making the process of showcasing what the offer is, complete not just with text, but with images and videos. Such images and videos are shared across image networks and video networks, such as YouTube, thus facilitating additional viral distribution with ease
7. Everything a potential buyer needs to know, i.e. what the offer is, how long the offer will take to deliver, what exactly is needed from the buyer in case any, what payment methods are allowed, what will be delivered etc. is all evident within the description. The Buyer typically need not go anywhere else or click any other links to get a full picture to make a conscious decision.