Social Shops for a Social Web

From the perspective of a digital strategist, the internet has created a continuous stream of change and innovation, leading to a vast pool of tools, resources, communication platforms and distribution channels. From this vantage point almost anything is possible, and that which is not yet possible is either an opportunity to innovate or an idea waiting to flow downstream.

For many – if I may continue this analogy- what they see are the grand rapids… chaos, confusion and an overall sense of feeling overwhelmed. It is easy to get lost in all the noise.

For many companies (large and small), Facebook has been approached as a promotional platform; a marketplace for the exchanging of ideas and thought and less as a marketplace for an exchanging of goods.

If the Social Graph has taught us anything, it is that our connections matter. Our friends affect our actions, and we really value their opinions as they contribute to the shaping of our own.

When riding the grand rapids, those in the raft are looking at more than what’s directly in front of them, they’re looking down river in anticipation of what’s to come: calm water, rocks, waterfalls…

In the grand scheme of retail, e-commerce is still fairly new and continues to evolve. US e-commerce sales totaled $165.4 billion in 2010, up 14.8% from 2009. That is substantial growth in what has been a fairly stagnant economy. The introduction of online sales was extremely disruptive for the brick and mortar businesses who were disengaged from the web. For this reason, looking downstream is crucial (no matter your business).

The social experience will be equally disruptive for those who choose not to engage in the social web. The signs are pointing to a future in social shopping. Building your social footprint as a business is an investment in your future digital storefront. A recent study by Webtrends & Adgregate Markets found websites that are not engaging in e-commerce are losing traffic to their Facebook pages at startling rates. This is likely because they are not deriving value from their experience with these retailers online. For the retailer this is simply lost opportunity. The study also discovered commerce conversations on Facebook ranged from 2% to 4% matching traditional commerce websites. Consumers are beginning to show signs that the Facebook + retail intersection isn’t that far-fetched of an idea.

Be proactive ,anticipate your customers’ future expectations. Begin investing in your own social properties today, so you can turn your relationships into actions (sales) tomorrow. There are several retail platforms and services available today. Payvment (which has an Etsy plugin) currently sits atop them all. Other services include Storefront Social, BigCommerce SocialShop, Ecwid and more.

If the first phase of the social web was establishing connections, we are now moving into the next phase where we continue to converse and share, but behavior is extended further into movements like purchasing and selling.

Today’s might be tomorrow’s Facebook storefronts. The web will continue to evolve and change. As a business owner or boss, your choice is to change with it, attempt to anticipate the changes and learn…or atrophy and die (your business… not you).

Categories: Social Media