Social shopping

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Social shopping is a method of e-commerce and of traditional shopping in which consumers shop in a social networking environment similar to MySpace. Using the wisdom of crowds, users communicate and aggregate information about products, prices, and deals. Many sites allow users to create custom shopping lists and share them with friends.[1]. Others concentrate on the user interactions consisting information and recommendations that are hard to acquire from the actual sales personnel. Some services even allow users to shop together synchronously to complete the social environment Social shopping sites can generate revenue not only from advertising and click throughs, but also by sharing information about their users with retailers.

Social shopping can also exist in the real-world even beside the obvious changing of consumer stories with people one knows. For example, when you walk into a dressing room, the mirror reflects your image, but you also see images of the apparel item and celebrities wearing it on an interactive display. A webcam also projects an image of the consumer wearing the item on the website for everyone to see. This creates an interaction between the consumers inside the store and their social network outside the store. The technology behind this system uses RFID[2].

Examples of social shopping sites include Shopseen, sfeed[3], Storrz, Yelp, Kaboodle and Select2gether. There are also a few sites that offer comparison shopping with social features. Examples of such sites are Pronto and TolMol. An example of a social shopping model that combines physical stores and social features is Shopseen, which allows users to share finds and deals from physical retailers through the phone and website and interact with users that have similar shopping interests. Examples of social shopping applications inside of Facebook include StyleFeeder. Business aspects of social shopping are still to be proven, although several companies have managed to publish their services and gather masses of users.

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Some retailers have used technology such as ShopTogether [1] to leverage the social aspect of shopping right on their site. It lets others weigh in on the purchase decisions. How many times do you buy a couch or art without the opinion of somebody else? Before online consumers make purchase decisions, they are beginning to be able to engage their friends and family to help them.

Social shopping sites such as Tribesmart are also using the Twitter API to give relevance and context to tweets on products which appear at random and are very short lived.

Reviews and ratings generated by real users on social shopping sites, product related tweets which are fixed against specific products all help address the imbalance of power between big brand marketing budgets and the consumer.

This common body of knowledge and experience means that people will make well informed choices based on the shared experience of other consumers of a product - days, weeks and months after their purchase.

This information is available online and also instore via iPhone applications and will sure mean fewer people in future buying products which don't live up to the marketing hype or which fail to offer real value.

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