A comparison of Groupon-esque social commerce offerings and potential threats to Groupon market share

Social commerce is making huge waves in the world of online commerce, and the word on everyone’s tongue is Groupon, the ruler of a land where competition didn’t seem to exist.

That is until now. When Groupon turned down billions offered by Google to buy them, they stirred a hornets’ nest and now there are a myriad of these social commerce sites all pecking at the market share of Groupon.

What exactly is social commerce?
Social commerce is a form of e-commerce where the emphasis is on the use of social media platforms that promote social interaction and buying.

How does Groupon work?
Groupon, by promising businesses a minimum number of customers, get discounts you won’t find anywhere else. They call it “collective buying power” and this is the power that some companies are trying to steal from them. When you sign up you enter your city and your email address and from there you’ll receive emails advertising what deals are around in your area.  If not enough people sign up to buy a certain deal, then the deal will get cancelled.

The main social commerce contenders
The main contenders for the crown are Facebook Deals , Google Offers and LivingSocial.

OnlineMBA.com have created this great infographic that compares the main players, just click to enlarge:

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Facebook Friday – s-Commerce

When social media first entered public consciousness a raft of retailers quickly latched onto it, with little or no thought as to how they would use it to drive sales.

Fast-forward to present day and the glass is somewhat half full. Whilst many retailers are still failing to properly harness the power of social media, some are really excelling in using the channel to engage with customers, drive website visits and increase sales.

What is s-Commerce?

One of the main reasons why some retailers are excelling in their use of social media is because they’re offering an ecommerce-like experience within the confines of their social media space. This practice, dubbed “s-commerce” or “social-commerce” seems as if it’s here to stay and is perhaps the biggest step so far towards social media being regarded as a revenue generating channel in its own right.

Who’s doing s-Commerce?

Once a rarity, there are now numerous examples of s-commerce. ASOS, regarded as one of the leading ecommerce retailers has recently launched a fully integrated Facebook shop that allows users to shop for ASOS products without leaving the social network. Functionality includes add to cart and checkout as well as the ability view items on friends news feeds and click through to ASOS product pages on Facebook.

Pia Jewellery has “social-commerce pop-up stores”, which use existing product feeds to dynamically display products across affiliate, display and social networks.  On the Pia Jewellery Facebook page, users who click “Shop Pia” are presented with a carousel of products, which they can click through and buy on the Pia website.

The 1-800 Flowers Facebook page features a fully fledged ecommerce system that allows users to a complete an entire transaction with its confines. Others functions include the ability to enter promotional codes as well as write personal messages to add to your order.

Cosmetics firm Avon have taken their use of social media even further by creating an online community on its website called “Avon Connects”. The site enables customers to buy online from their Avon rep- without face to face contact. It also engages customers though editorial content, photos and videos.

What does that mean for the rest of us?

While the above examples show that some retailers are being innovative and testing the boundaries of s-commerce, there are many who still have some way to go before they’re offering the sort of social media experience modern consumers expect.

Modern social media-savvy consumers are looking for closer relationships with their favourite brands/retailers; therefore retailers who excel in their use of social media are more likely to encourage their loyalty.

10 Best Ecommerce Facebook Profile Pages

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If industry experts are right, 2011 looks set to be the year that ecommerce on Facebook (or ‘f-commerce’ as it’s come to be known) really takes off.

The current f-Commerce landscape

At the moment only a handful of companies are dipping their toes into the water, which is surprising given the relative in-expense of set up and the huge numbers of people to engage with and sell to. Things look set to change though with increasing numbers of Facebook shops springing up and big name companies announcing their intention to join then revolution (ASOS are scheduled to launch their Facebook shop at the end of January)

Most companies with Facebook shops have ‘shop fronts’ as opposed to fully fledged ecommerce systems, meaning users are taken out of Facebook and whisked away to the company’s website whenever they click on a product. If a company is using their Facebook shop mainly as a device to drive traffic to their website, this practice is fine. If a company wants their Facebook shop to serve as a viable revenue source in its own right then they should stick to ecommerce best practice and make transactions as easy and seamless as possible. This means offering users a fully fledged ecommerce experience within the confines of Facebook.

Some of the better f-commere pages

The following (in no particular order) are 10 of the best ecommerce Facebook profile pages I’ve come across so far.

1: 1-800 Flowers

2: JC Penny

3: Pampers

4: Hautelook

5: Mark.

6: Adult Swim UK

7: Miami Heat

8: Grayce by Molly Sims

9: Game Intern

10: Orglamix Cosmetics

All of the above Facebook shops offer a fully fledged ecommerce experience without users ever having to leave Facebook; something I think will be a common practice when f-commerce really takes off and with masses of third party solutions available such as Payvment and Alvenda it’s something that can be easily achieved.