Apropos of the holiday season, I have a few upcoming posts regarding observations about retail and the Net.
Amazingly, no one appears to have quite figured out social and shopping yet. Inherently shopping has a social aspect where our networks or other trusted folks have a huge impact — we ask friends for recommendations, we are influenced by what others like, we like being commenting about what we have bought, we shop socially, etc. Yet, as explained in a recent FT article, Facebook and others have yet to figure out how to use social networks to deliver measurable results for retail. The verdict is captured in quotes by two Internet retail executives:
Jonathan Johnson of Overstock:
“I agree that the commercial aspect of social media is overhyped and no one’s really caught that rabbit yet…We’re not trying to use it as a sales piece as much as an information-gathering piece. Finding out what our customers want; whether they like a product; how could we sell it better.”
Kevin Ryan of Gilt Groupe:
“[Facebook is] an extraordinary place where people go and connect with their friends to date, they are not using it really to make concrete purchasing decisions and they are certainly not purchasing things on Facebook…Consumers today are not looking at Facebook psychologically as a place where you go to buy things.”
This is a massive opportunity for whoever figures this out before Amazon does. Of the existing social networks, in my view, Twitter and Foursquare — the user experiences of which naturally are positioned to deliver recommendations — are best positioned to solve this problem.