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The Age of Social Commerce is Here

It has been suggested that fashion retail is that last bastion of the high street, the jewel in the shopping crown that will never be usurped by online stores. Well it looks like online fashion retailer ASOS have blown a hole in that theory with news of soaring profits and massive success in both US and UK markets. ASOS was founded in 2000, it is an acronym for ‘As Seen on Stars’. Its original USP was to provide fashion fanatics with the latest fatigues that celebrities were sporting. Beckham-esque sarong anyone?

The site has transcended this ethos however and become a fashion authority in its own right, playing its part in defining the ecosystem of chic with its own line of glamorous garments. It is telling then that the already successful online business, whose site attracts over 11 million unique visitors per month, is set to open a Facebook store to drive yet more sales. The ASOS Facebook fan page currently has close to 400,000 fans but the built-in store will take engagement to the next level.

Not only will consumers be able to buy ASOS products through the Facebook store, just as they would on the main site, those keen to share their purchases with the world will be able to have their transaction published on their newsfeed, and ‘like’ individual items. All this means that users can buy items without ever leaving Facebook, this is already a reality, Max Factor have their own ‘boutique’ on Facebook, but ASOS will introduce the concept to a much wider audience .

This is indicative of an emerging trend for what is being termed ‘social commerce’. Social commerce takes many different forms but its ‘reason d'être’ is the convergence of social interaction and both on and offline shopping to create richer, more involving commercial experiences and ultimately drive sales. Far from being an exclusively net-based phenomena, social commerce looks to tie in both the physical and digital realms.

 

Social Geo-location apps are a great example of this, services like Foursquare are demonstrating the broad reach of social commerce by offering discounts and free stuff to patrons who regularly ‘check in’ to (read; promote to friends) selected retail sites.

 

Add to this the growing popularity of discount sites like Groupon and Hot UK Deals as well as the emergence of Facebook credits (voucher cards with codes that are purchased on the high street in stores like Game, but used to buy games and apps online) and the already looming presence of social commerce in out everyday lives is plain to see.

What are your views on social commerce? Do you think the ability to shop via Facebook is a good idea? Do you use any of the sites or apps listed above? Discuss and debate…



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