The Top 5 Social Commerce Disruptors in 2012
2011 was a big year for ecommerce and 2012 promises to be even bigger as social commerce continues to emerge as a key source of traffic and sales for online retailers. Here are the top five trends in social commerce that I predict will have the most impact in the coming year:
Going beyond the "like": To gain greater value from the Facebook social graph, e-commerce sites will begin to allow visitors to do more than just "like" a product. At the most recent f8 Developer Conference, Facebook announced its plans to enable more types of user actions to be shared, such as "read," "watched" and "listened." In 2012, e-commerce sites will begin to define their own social actions, allowing consumers to indicate what they've bought or reviewed, or even indicate what items they are shopping for. Given that 50% of visitors to e-commerce sites are logged into Facebook while shopping, these types of social features will prove to be popular with consumers in 2012.
Platforms open wide: One of the biggest inhibitors to integrating social into the e-commerce experience over the past two years has been the technical challenge. Vocal demand from retailers has driven most of the major e-commerce platform providers to adapt, making their platforms much easier to integrate with third party services. eBay's X.commerce announcement is the most visible example of this trend, but every major e-commerce platform has made social integration a big part of its roadmap in 2012.
More deals, every day: 2011 was the year of the local daily deal, led by Groupon and Living Social, amongst others. The daily deal phenomenon proved that consumers don't want to miss out on a phenomenal deal, even if they had little-to-no purchase intent for the item or service being offered. Online retailers were quick to realize that the Groupon model could be applied to their own websites, and I predict that this trend will only accelerate in 2012. The daily deal will become a mainstay of the e-commerce environment for years to come.
Celebrity-driven marketing: Our celebrity-driven culture extended into online retailing in a big way in 2011, and we'll be seeing plenty more in 2012. After several years of building Facebook fans and Twitter followers, social media-savvy celebrities became a key asset to the marketing strategies for many online brands. The success of ShoeDazzle, which rode Kim Kardashian's popularity, set an example for the industry. In 2012, we'll see more sites use celebrity muscle to push traffic to retail sites — like Fab.com, which got Demi Moore to tweet about some of its early sales, and BeachMint, which co-presents products from Kate Bosworth, the Olsen sisters and Jessica Simpson.
Shopping less but spending more: Shoppers with more cash than time will be courted by sites that offer personalized shopping services, digging up only the deals and the products that the shopper will jump on. Services like Shop It To Me act as virtual personal shoppers, saving their members the hassle of scouring sites for deals. Services that rent products, like Rent The Runway, will unlock new ways of consuming products. New forms of shopping with social twists will continue to spread in popularity fueled by strong word of mouth via social networks.