Social Commerce – Are You Using it to the Maximum?

E-tailers are constantly searching for new ways to connect and build a long lasting relationship with their customers. However, a close examination reveals that they fail to use even the existing social commerce tools to the optimum.

A quick look at some e-commerce websites reveals desolate picture. Most of them have initiated community-building tools like forums, ratings, reviews and even blogs. Sadly, they suffer from want of active intervention from the e-tailer. The forums reveal sporadic participation, the ratings and reviews appear wanton and the blogs either are too verbose or carry only terse company news.

All of this reflects a lack of consistency and shallowness in their attempt to engage with their customers. Instead of running after the latest fad, they can maximise the usage of the existing tools.

Blogs, reviews and even ratings are still good enough to connect with customers and build a strong and lasting relationship. They are virile enough to build brands and provide an incentive to customers to revisit the e-commerce website.

If used innovatively, they can create the much sought after ‘seal of trust’ that will tip the scale in an e-commerce sites favour. All of these social technologies can improve customer experience and turn even a mild customer into a ranging brand advocate.

This is not to say that anything newfangled is worthless, instead this is an attempt to make an e-tailer understand the value of the tools he already posses. There is nothing wrong with integrating new social commerce tools, if it is used to the maximum. In addition, it may disorient a customer to find that the website he frequents replace one tool with another just for the sake of novelty.

The 7 Characteristics of Social Commerce

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.

Finding An E-Commerce Web Developer Who Is Right For The Job

An e-commerce web developer might be just what you need to expand your business online. But many people market themselves as great developers, so how do you know you are getting the right person for the job?

There are a few ways to make sure you make the right hire. Follow these suggestions to ensure you are finding someone who can provide quality service at the right price.

First, check the web developer’s skill level. This person should have had some sort of training, or you may want to be skeptical about what qualities they will bring to the table. There are too many people who trust the freelancing web developer only to find that they fall short in accomplishing some of your goals, or they make promises they cannot fulfill technically.

The next thing to look for when you are trying to find the right e-commerce developer for your needs would be to look at reviews or get references about their services. You want to know what other clients they have served. You want to know how they treat their customers, and that previous clients have been satisfied with their web projects. Reviews are one way to see what people are saying about a given web developer, or his agency, but references are even more important because reviews can be faked. Talking to a real client is going to give you a better sense of what you can expect from your web developer.

You also want to be sure they know how to create the e-commerce component of your website, whether that’s incorporating a commerce theme into your website design or hooking your website up to a shopping cart program that charges a monthly fee. Ask about your e-commerce options and their experience with different features available. If they cannot offer what you are looking for, then you can move on to the next web developer candidate. The e-commerce development should be the backbone for your website, and it is vitally important.

The e-commerce web developer you hire should be able to work with you. You should be able to tell your web designer what your goals are and receive help obtaining those goals. If your developer can’t do this, you need to seek someone else.

Last of all, you need to be sure the web designer understands what you need them to do. This should be done before you sign a contract so there isn’t any misunderstanding about what you expect. You and the developer should both sign this. A contract is a vital ingredient in protecting yourself against poor-quality work, unfinished work or other lapses in service.

You should do some price comparisons among web developers, so you know you are paying a reasonable price. But the price is not the only thing you should take into consideration as you search for an e-commerce web developer. You want to balance quality of service with price, so that you can find the best service for the best price. If you look only for bottom-dollar bargains, you may not find an e-commerce web developer who can deliver the quality of work you need to be successful in your venture.