Holiday Shopping habits are going through a transition states OneUpWeb.com. The recession has changed consumer habits and according to their
report on shopping trends, "social" search engines will be used more than traditional
search for data regarding holiday purchases. And beyond Twitter Search,
the social networking niche gaining the most traction in this area is
social shopping network sites.
These new networks just in time for the approaching Holiday season claim to provide great bargain in addition to sound shopping tips. Will they give that added boost e-commerce this year? Only time will tell. Here are my TOP TEN picks for the best new social shopping network sites.
Woot.com is an online store and community that focuses on selling cool stuff cheap. It's shopping premise is a little different from some of the other TOP TEN winners. Woot provides you with one product daily for sale until it's sold out or until 11:59pm central time when it is replaced by the next day's item. It also allows users to participate in forums to discuss and surface feedback about the products. This user-generated content is what makes this site social and elevates a buyer's shopping experience online.
Ideeli is a members-only shopping community that offers current fashion finds in addition to some last-season items said to be "cherry-picked" by their buyers and specially priced for their members. In addition they have a presence on Twitter @ideeli and Facebook. Launched two years ago, Ideeli is considered a 'luxury' site featuring designer merchandise for fashionistas that are bargain-hunters. With give-away teasers and discounts as high as 80%, you can pay a $6.98 monthly membership fee if you want to be upgraded to their "first row" membership. Apparently worth the premium since you are notified in advance as soon as items go on sale. And since inventory is limited and items sell out fast, 2nd Row members might find themselves SOL when its their turn to buy.
Rue LaLa is an invitation-only social shopping site which means you have to be invited by an already existing member to enjoy its benefits. Exclusivity adds to the interest factor in this site. It also features premium designer clothes and accessories in private sale boutiques that are only open for a limited time. Similar to Ideeli, members receive alert emails when new sales open where motivated buyers can purchase before their favorite, coveted item is sold out. Luxury sites like Rue LaLa and Ideeli are examples in these economic times that even premium brands shoppers are looking for deals.
The name "Wishpot" is based on this site's feature of permitting users to create product wish-list that they can then in turn share with other members of the community. This site differs from some of the others as it is an aggregator of online store and product info. Wishpot doesn't sell its own wares.The products you see on Wishpot are sold by the merchants. For those that choose to access the site from their mobile devices, you can add to your list and post photos from your cell phone. When you find something that you wish to buy online, you can save the product information by clicking on a browser button. Wishpot will then alert you where you can buy the product automatically.
ThisNext is defined as a "shopcasting" (shopping meets broadcasting) site, or a platform that allows members to spread the word about the products they like. Here you can interact with users that offer up opinions and feedback regarding their recommended products. Their slogan, "buying better to live better," places emphasis on the 'wisdom of crowds' as members become influencers and trend-setters in this self-contained community.
Gordon Gould,ThisNext's CEO is here giving you his best "elevator pitch" about his company.
Buzzillions is a review site generated by users that contribute shopping experiences. Sort of like an Consumer Reports online community that is a viable option for comparison shopping. Buzzillions' 'Affinity Recommendations' matches your profile with profiles of others with similar tastes in product. Presently at 6.9 million customer reviews across a wide range of categories, the site boasts that these are unbiased reviews, differing from shopping sites that pay bloggers to post critiques. Similar to Wishpot, Buzzillions is not a retailer and does not sell products themselves, although they do have retail partners that advertise on the site.
You'll be stylin' with the best of them on StyleFeeder, which calls itself an online "personal shopping engine." At this social shopping site you can rub virtual elbows with celebrities, the likes of 50 cent. This site's edge over some of the others on this TOP TEN list is it claims to "quickly learn your style so that every search...is personalized...where they (can then) recommend products (they) think you'll love." The site will even help you find your StyleTwins across the globe, searching thousands of stores and over 14 million products to find items that match your style preferences, using their proprietary collaborative filtering technology.
Osoyou is a one of the latest women's social shopping network to open this season. It features product suggestions. Your OSOME Stylefile is this site's shopping tool where members can save fashion and beauty finds from across the Web. And in case you're wondering what's new with celeb fashions, the site features the latest celebrity looks, even those worn by fictional characters such as Carrie Bradshaw
This video was filmed pre-launch with British women commenting on their expectations regarding Osoyou.com
Stylehive, not to be confused with StyleFeeder (above) is a community where shoppers can build their own "hive" of favorite merchandise to share with other members. Described as "part social-networking club, part pop-culture lab, Stylehive.com is one big ensemble cast of trendsetters creating, discovering and buying the next big thing!" The site lays claim that "every kind of retailer (from mass to the super-edgy)" can be found at Stylehive reaching out to shoppers "on a global scale." Differing from some of the others on this TOP TEN, you do not have to join "the hive" to enjoy. Casual readers are welcome to browse or subscribe to it via an RSS feed.
Kaboodle, launched in 2005, now at 7 million unique monthly visitors to date was one of the social shopping network front-runners to emerge online. Their unique Holiday Portal was launched just before the December holidays last year. Called Holiday Kit 'n Kaboodle, on Cyber Monday, December '08, Kaboodle experienced a significant increase in traffic with a 177% uptick in visitors in comparison to Cyber Monday 2007. On Kaboodle's "Store We Love," page, their store partners include IKea, Nordstrom, Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters and dozens more. For the budget-conscious shopper, a new “Sales and Stores” channel at the site includes a Target-branded SmartCircular that looks like a newspaper insert but behaves more like a Web site. Visitors can leaf through the pages of the circular and can click on any item to have it saved to their “Weekly Shopping List” that Kaboodle users create to bring to the store later. The project is a partnership between Hearst Magazines Digital Media and Gannett subsidiary ShopLocal.
As mentioned above, with consumers pressed to reduce their holiday spending this year due to the economy, a new study from OneUpWeb predicts they will do more of their Christmas bargain-hunting through social media, and less through search engines or shopper review sites.
Last year, e-commerce drew in $25.5 billion dollars, a 3% decline, while online traffic grew 10%.
It will be interesting to see if these social shopping networks will be the boost that e-commerce needs this holiday season. Take a moment to take our TOP TEN POLL and let us know which site is your favorite. And leave us a comment if we missed one that has gained your patronage.