The Rise of Social Shopping and User Reviews

Why I think customer reviews and social shopping are important. Social shopping is an interesting concept which divides opinion amongst web commentators.

Most are agreed that social shopping is a specific type of web service with its roots in the social explosion of Web 2.0.

In their purest form the best social shopping sites provide an open independent platform where users can add products, post a review or provide a product rating. The sites are service orientated, providing the tools for others to use and as such rely heavily on user generated content to set the agenda.

In essence the opportunity now exists for consumers to band together, discuss specific products and brands and provide an authentic alternative voice to the brand led marketing activity and conventional expert reviews we are all subjected to in other media.

By sharing product knowledge and experiences, creating useful content, an empowered community consensus can emerge, highlighting the gems and warning against the over hyped duds – the products which disappoint and fail to deliver.

This type of user generated content has a real value and satisfies an important element of the online shopping process – research, which accounts for 80% of consumer time when they are shopping online.

Social shopping sites combine social elements such as a social networking community features with aspects of shopping such as product reviews, ratings and deal hunting.

Some of the more agile social shopping sites are making use of the Twitter API and Facebook Connect to tap in to the online conversation, providing context for product related Tweets on Twitter and distribution of product opinion via Facebook.

Social shopping sites can be viewed as a value added evolution of the affiliate model – as they seek to monetize website content (the user generated product reviews and ratings) by sending traffic to third party merchant sites where they can purchase product.

My starting position is to agree with the mantra that “customer recommendation is the Holy Grail of Advertising”. We know this is true in the real world – if your friends and neighbours enthuse about their new car, lawnmower, laptop or digital camera – it will have weight, you take note.

The same holds online – reviews and recommendations are very powerful; especially those from people with status in a community, and those which are provided weeks and months after the purchase; only the scale and dynamics of relationships differ. The potential then of social shopping and what it offers us as consumers, product designers, specialist retailers and brands which really focus on and respond to their community is very exciting.

Some statistics and predictions from rantorave.

According to a global Nielsen survey of 26,486 Internet users in 47 markets, consumer recommendations are the most credible form of advertising among 78% of the study’s respondents. (Nielsen, “Word-of-Mouth the Most Powerful Selling Tool”).

83% of shoppers said online product evaluations and reviews influenced their purchasing decisions. (Opinion Research Corporation, an infoGROUP company, July 2008).

76% of US retailers said user-generated content would have a greater impact on their marketing goals in the near future. (SLI Systems/Zoomerang, November 2008).

56% of UK website owners say that user-generated content lifts conversion levels; 77% say it increases traffic; and 42% say it increases the average spend on site.(eConsultancy survey of 360 website owners across all sectors, November 2008).

By 2020, 84% of marketers agree that building customer trust will become marketing’s primary objective, and 82% agree that collaboration with customers will prevail over marketing. (1to1 Media survey April, 2008).

Top 10 Social shopping sites: (note I am only allowed to submit an article with 4 links)

  1. Kaboodle – http://www.kaboodle.com a great site, arguably market leader geared towards female consumers. Now owned by Hearst Digital Media.
  2. ThisNext – another strong site with an emphasis on female consumers, this site feels like a great window shopping experience with expert Maverns on tap
  3. Tribesmart – http://www.tribesmart.com this site is making use of twitter and Facebook connect. There are some great tools such as the personal list builder and community messaging features based on the ‘Tribes’ idea. Like Veedow, Wists and Crowdstorm it could appeal to both sexes and this is potentially where the gap in the market is as Kaboodle, OSOYOU and ThisNext seem to have marked out a claim on the younger female market.
  4. Veedow – a slightly confusing site, a neat idea, still yet to realize it’s full potential in my view
  5. Stylehive – feeling less like a pure play social shopping site these days, it has a strong emphasis on wannabe celebrity fashion/lifestyle writers who you follow – it is not as vibrant as twitter although you can see where they are going with it
  6. Jungle Raft – a new entrant, included as it is a new concept with a clear proposition in terms of pulling the best deals from Amazon
  7. Stylefeeder – offers to help users discover products based on their unique tastes. The looks a little off the pace and has some annoying and tacky pop up ads. All a bit old skool.
  8. Crowdstorm – the site is a Digg type site for products, it is based on buzz and an expert opinion network- although it does seem to have gone quiet in the last 12 months
  9. Shopstyle – feels like an ecommerce site with price discounts on display. Lacks obvious reviews or community features although the stylebooks feature is really nice enabling people to put looks together and share these – the ‘sale alert’ feature could be useful though and the site has hooked up with Elle magazine in the past.
  10. Wists – a trending site about what is new and what people plan on buying

There are many others, sites like Shopcorn and Naturalbornshoppers to name but two.

Product Reviews of Shopping Cart Software

Your website and the ability for customers to check out quickly and easily is incredibly important. As many website owners know, all too often a customer will place an item in their cart and go to check out. However, for whatever reason during checkout they change their mind and never complete the transaction. This could be due to any number of reasons, but in many cases it is simply because the checkout procedure is too much of a hassle. If you don’t want to lose sales at the last critical point then make sure you have the best shopping cart software. How do you do this? There are several ways, but one of them is to read product reviews.

Product reviews are important because it allows you to see from a website owner’s point of view the benefits and drawbacks a particular program might have. This is important because before you can learn from other’s experiences before you buy and install the software. You want to avoid as many lost sales as possible and the best way to do this is by reading product reviews and finding shopping cart software that will meet your needs. There are a few things to look for.

First, you want a software that makes it easy to checkout as well as make changes or return shopping. Some individuals may be in the process of checking out and realize they forgot to look through the clearance items. The last thing you want to do is have them start over so you need a shopping cart software that will easily let the customer return shopping and then back to the shopping cart with no confusion and seamless transition.

There are many different shopping cart software options on the market and some are great while others are just so-so. You don’t want a so-so shopping cart software but rather one that is right in line with what customers want from a checkout process. They don’t want to have to fill out a lot of forms, they don’t want to have to create an account, and they want to be able to make changes to their order and see the immediate price changes whether this be with shipping, taxes, or simply adding or removing items.

Finally, make sure your shopping cart software is never the reason why a potential customer leaves with her cart half full. This is the worst possible situation and if you are doing what it takes to get customers to your website and then making a purchase then the last thing you want is for your shopping cart software to turn them away.

DOS Games and Today’s Video Game Market

DOS games is a vital part of gaming history and has helped get many modern games to the point they are today. If you’re not quite sure on what DOS means or what kind games have been released as DOS games then read this article it might be very beneficial for you.

DOS stands for “disk operating system” and is a shorthand term for many close related systems what dominated the market between 1981 and 1995. You will see many DOS related systems such as MS-DOS, PC DOS, Free DOS and many more. During the height of DOS operating system there was many DOS games developed and released. These ranged from simple video games such as Pacman to complex adventure games. You can still download and play DOS games to date.

Many DOS games have helped influence games of today some very basic ideas are still continued in the market today. Platformers are constantly used over and over and are making a big return in many modern games. In which a lot of modern games have returned to the roots and going back to basic principles seen in many classic games. These games are now flooding mobile network app markets.

There now is a huge amount of DOS video games which are available to download. To be precise there is over five hundred that can be downloaded. These consist of shareware, freeware and demos of many popular titles which have been released many years ago. A lot of these DOS programs are the starters for great companies such as Blizzard, iD software, Westwood and many more.

The current gaming scene as most people who know a fair about games would know that a lot of developers have started to move towards 2d rather than the 3d you have seen so much. This is a great relief from all the 3d try hard realistic games which are now on the market. Any of these however never beats the classic Pacman or pong. Which for many would bring back memories of these when there use to a lot of arcades about.

Overall DOS games have made a huge mark on gaming today and it is a good sign to see a lot of these ideas making a return to the modern-day market. If you’re have a slight interest in classic games then there are plenty of sites out there which are currently offering these games for free. As they should be as most of them are either freeware or shareware.