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Creating a More Social Shopping Experience

March 21, 2011

Shopping is an inherently social activity, with consumers enjoying to share with the world great products they enjoy, deals they’ve found, among other activities.  It’s a natural part of human behavior and one of the reasons why we’ve seen the a huge interest in using Facebook as a platform for shopping.

Mobile devices make it even easier to be social while shopping by putting the devices capabilities directly in the hands of consumers and making it easier to do everything from creating videos to sharing experiences to Twitter and Facebook while shopping with mobile devices.

One of the most interesting evolutions in mobile social shopping is barcode or “object scanning”, which uses a mobile device to scan a product’s barcode or an entire object to get more information about the product from your social graph. We’re already seeing consumers using mobile devices to do competitive price comparing, and barcode or object scanning takes it to the next level.  While some social shopping applications like Stickybits require a barcode to enable social shopping on a mobile device, others such as Moonstocks leave barcodes behind and scan the entire object.  I had an chance to meet the Co-founder and business guy (that’s what his business card said) of Moodstocks, Denis Brule, at SXSW, and he gave me a demo of how it works:


The obvious benefit to Moodstocks is being able to just scan an object without relying on codes, which makes anyobject (in theory at least) become “socially enabled”.

It’s informative to understand what others, especially your own social graph, has to say about a particular product using these apps, but it’s also important to tie in incentives to purchase. Stickybits does a good job of doing this, providing offers, as well as a gaming layer, that leads to greater rewards. Moodstocks is still early on in the process, but has plans to get there.

What It All Means to Retailers

While these type of applications have yet to be adopted in mass, retailers should think about them as an opportunity to extend reach to consumers.  Some ideas to do so include:

  • Engage in the communities–  Spend some time in these applications, particularly engaging community members who comment on your products or even your competitor products.  Creating this level of engagement will demonstrate your brand is active and cares about feedback on your product.
  • Provide offers within the communities– As the offer-based capabilities of these sites increase, experiment with providing offers.  Just like Foursquare and Shopkick in the location-based shopping world, social apps such as these provide an additional channel to reach consumers and drive online and in-store transactions.
  • Explore an integration– Most of these type of applications offer open APIs, so the possibility of leveraging the capabilties they offer in your own mobile strategy is possible. For instance, allow consumers to scan objects in your own shopping app to bring up product details pages or perhaps feed into an activity feed of consumers associated with your brand.  Another option could be to allow for products to be shared directly from your product detail pages directly into the communities, and allow comments or reviews of the products to push back to your website and mobile app. These are just a few of the ways you could leverage these social shopping apps as a platform.

How have you considered working with social shopping applications?

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