Monday, February 11, 2013

Social Commerce: From Death and Disillusion to Slope of Enlightenment

Welcome to the trough of disillusionment folks.  On the Hype Cycle Every technology trend must pass through it on it’s way to the slope of enlightenment and productivity – including social commerce.  And we are in it now, with som mistaking disillusionment for the death of social commerce; big brand e-commerce stores in social media have shut up shop, and now the market leader in e-commerce software for Facebook, Payvment, has shut up shop too.
But don’t mistake the popped bubble of inflated expectations for the death of social commerce - we are just emerging onto the slope of enlightenment.

What does this enlightenment look like?  First and foremost, it is becoming clear that social commerce is not a new standalone form of commerce – it is simply part of best practice e-commerce - social technology deployed to make the online shopping experience more social – i.e. help people learn from each other a) what to buy, and b) where to buy it.  We are all social shoppers to some degree and helping the social shopper shop socially is evolving to become the core purpose of social commerce.
So it’s no surprise we are seeing e-commerce companies snap up social commerce startups to offer customers a more social shopping experience – from 8thBridge‘s tie up with eBay’s GSI that adds 8thBridge’s popular Graph-powered social plugin suite (Graphite) to the GSI e-commerce, to home shopping network QVC’s recently acquired Oodle the Facebook marketplace to LiveBooks acquisition Fotomoto, the social commerce app that allows photographers to share and sell their work across social media. Social commerce is about adding social into the e-commerce mix.
So it makes sense that popular hosted e-commerce shopping cart Ecwid (short for e-commerce widget) has acquired Payvment’s 200K Facebook store software customers, and not the other way around. Ecwid is more than e-commerce software for Facebook; Ecwid is platform-neutral store widget that can be embedded across online properties such blogs, websites and social media pages.  Social is just part of the e-commerce mix.
Of course, as I social psychologist, I have a vested interest in promoting the value of social in commerce; but as the latest 2013 Trust Barometer from Edelman shows we consistently trust each other – along with independent experts – more than those selling to us. As long as this remains the case - the subset of e-commerce that 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 – AKA social commerce will continue to thrive.


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