Social Shopping Closes the Gap Between Inspiration and Checkout

Social shopping apps have evolved tremendously over the past few years, redefining the process of product discovery and purchase. From providing people a platform to curate products they love to encouraging retail inspiration and aspiration, they have now evolved into full-fledged ecommerce operations catering largely to a connected female consumer.

This marks a very significant movement in how we discover and buy products on the Web. We are increasingly seeing a trend where products are being brought and presented to consumers, and not the other way around. It is a potent blend of brand influence and notably peer recommendation and participation. What do we mean when we say that commerce has become participative?

The consumer journey is now complex and layered as compared to before. The interaction between a consumer and a product isn’t always mediated by a merchant or seller anymore. Social shopping apps make it easy for consumers to look to other consumers for recommendations and inspiration, making the process of shopping participative. Let’s look at some examples of social shopping apps to understand how this change has occurred.

One of the leaders in this field is Wanelo and they have introduced a lot of changes over the past year that indicate this transition to a more consumer-centric approach. Last fall, they announced the integration of over 200 brands selling directly through the app, including Urban Outfitters. One of the biggest challenges for anyone selling products is capturing and keeping a shopper’s attention. With so much over stimulation, abandoned carts are a major pain point for many.

That’s exactly what Wanelo is trying to eliminate through the “Buy” button and their partnership with Shopify. They made it very easy for Shopify users to integrate Wanelo into their consumers’ shopping experience. This is critical for big brands so they can make sure they reach their consumers on the infinite channels they shop on. At the same time, this is a very powerful way for lesser known sellers and marketplaces to be discovered. Say you are a small retailer. A shopper on Wanelo or Keep or Fancy likes one of your products and shares it. Other people in that person’s network like it too and suddenly your product is viral. That’s the power of participatory commerce and social shopping. There are also curated marketplaces like Runway2Street that bring high-end designer wear from all over the world under one shopping experience.

Part of my feed today at

Part of my feed today at

These platforms use learning algorithms that combine the information that you provide about your taste, with the details of the people you “follow”, to provide you with a curated and personalized list. It’s like going to the shopping mall, but better. It provides the social aspect of discussing products with other people, but the assortment is global and almost unlimited.

There are other players also pushing the envelope when it comes to integrated social shopping. Keep is a stellar example of making it delightful for consumers to “keep” all their favorite items in one place, share them with others and most importantly buy things from different brands all on the same website. The universal shopping cart is their claim to fame. It’s like Twitter meets Pinterest with baked-in ecommerce functionality. You can “like” a product, “Keep” it to buy later, or just “Buy” it. You also get updated inventory information. You can follow users whose taste you aspire to or are already in sync with. As the saying goes, a highly recommended product goes a long way. Well, nobody actually says that but it’s true nevertheless. No better place for a brand to leverage your advocates than on a social shopping network.

The universal shopping cart is a big deal. Companies like Two Tap are making it easier for consumers and publishers to get the products they like faster. Re-entering personal and payment information for different websites is a deal breaker for many consumers. A universal shopping cart solves that problem clearing the path to conversion.

The Fancy app definitely has their eye on the future with a universal shopping and applications for Apple Pay and even Google Glass. So not only are they providing a portal for shopping in one place, users can also access it on any device, making the experience more fluid, pervasive and exciting.

You will notice how all these apps have one design element in common – a clean, tiled format that highlights the products in the best way possible. Pinterest did create murmur around the introduction of a “Buy” button, but until then would you agree that social shopping networks have the edge in providing the inspiration for purchase and an easy checkout process?

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