E-commerce, F-commerce, M-commerce… Social Commerce
From the early days of e-commerce and Amazon there are now several evolving platforms that enable us to buy not only with coins and bills but also with credit, tokens, and even charge to our existing mobile bills. The evolutions of Facebook-commerce and Mobile-commerce are changing the way we interact with retailers by empowering us not only to purchase differently but also to gain access to information about products from more sources and in more locations.
Think back to the origins of Amazon.com the father of e-commerce, their ability not only to make online purchase a seamless transaction, but also the integration of user reviews and their recommendation engine revolutionized the world of shopping. Suddenly from the comfort of our homes we had access to the world’s largest bookstore, comments and opinions from people across the world (some of whom we might even know) and the ability to pay with a credit card and have the package delivered to our doorstep – the best of the biggest department store trip with your friends and the catalogue business that we have loved for years.
Mobile and Facebook commerce are pushing the boundaries of retailing even further – giving you access to online stores while you are still comfortably within the confines of the world’s most popular social network (essentially where people are spending all their time) and now having this access wherever you are, be it in the car, on a friend’s couch or even at the beach.
But mobile and Facebook aren’t the only technologies that are changing the way we shop, in fact we are starting to see the loop of retailing close as the new craze of phygital (physical + digital) experiences makes waves at every execution and the lines between E, F and M commerce become a blur.
Using Facebook whilst in a store, to like, comment and share items can have a major effect on purchases – either to check out what your friends are doing, get their input on a purchase or even in the case of tools like Snap for Business share what they’ve bought and how loyal a customer they are. Reaching into the depths of our social graph takes Amazon’s early reviews functionality to new heights as we add a layer of credibility to each of the reviewers by knowing who they are or how we are connected to them.
Location based services:
Beyond simple 4sq checkins, location based services like Shop Kick are using our mobiles to drive commerce by adding a game layer to our movements and activity within stores. Visit their site to understand how the app works here.
Using NFC & RFID to make payments has been ‘on the cards’ for quite a while, but we’re still waiting for it to really reach our phones. Many different services are popping up across the world claiming to offer payment systems (and in addition to this you also have the Square payment system allowing you to take payments on an iPhone) – this article on Read Write Web gives a good roundup of the applications that are coming, and the potential that this will drive once they are completely integrated with both operators and handset manufacturers is amazing.
Finally the basic functionalities of our phones like the camera and instant messaging are also taking on new meaning within the shopping environment, from scanning a QR code to posting a photo of the latest offer to our social network we can capture and transmit imagery in real time. With IM tools (BBM, MSN, Y!Chat, etc) broadcast transmissions about special offers can be quickly transmitted to large groups of people, and flash buying mobs can appear within very short spaces of time.
So shopping has changed, from a trip down the high street with a few friends to get their input on some shoes, technology, mobile and social media have empowered the shopping experience to be available anywhere, anytime and with friends from across the world – in fact when we look at it, the concept hasn’t changed that much, shopping is still a very social experience.
Social commerce may well be the future, but the real revolution is that the lines between these different types of commerce are becoming so blurred that we need to focus on the whole picture if we really are to deliver a winning experience.
See some great examples of these phygital executions below and please don’t hesitate to share your own examples of social commerce in the comments.
Diesel Facebook mirror execution in Spain, allowing you to interact with your friends even when you don’t have your mobile with you.
Equally Renault have taken the experience to the motor show, using the social graph to amplify people’s thoughts and feelings about the car.
Adidas uses technology to expand the options available within their physical store (much like a website).