In a DMNews article this week entitled: Social commerce: Strategies for extending online shopping beyond the e-commerce site, Fumi Matsumoto, co-founder & CTO of Allurent (Charlotte Russe and Reebok’s Facebook store software), outlines a three phased solution for doing social commerce.

For Allurent, social commerce is all about extending online shopping beyond e-commerce sites to social destinations.  It involves what we call an “adding tills to watercoolers” solution (adding e-commerce to social media platforms), and an “adding watercoolers to tills” solution (linking social media to existing e-commerce platform) – but through offsite links.  The ultimate goal is “enabling consumers to browse, view, and add products to a shopping cart, within the context of a social site, like Facebook or a blog.”

  1. Phase 1: ‘adding watercoolers to tills’ (1): linking your e-commerce site to offsite watercooler sites – (social sites such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter presence, retailer blog). We’d suggest also adding in onsite ratings, reviews, and discussion forums, Bazaarvoice/PowerReviews-style. and share with your network tools (SWYN) like co-browsing. Matsumoto notes that Phase 1 is essentially an extension of interactive marketing – and the effect on e-commerce will be indirect.
  2. Phase 2: ‘adding watercoolers to tills’ (2)’: linking your e-commerce site to leading offsite social shopping portals such as Polyvore and Kaboodle, or to virtual watercoolers on affiliate/partner sites in the form of expert blogs or sponsored discussion forums
  3. Phase 3: ‘adding tills to watercoolers’: adding commerce capabilities directly into your social media presence (i.e. phases 1 & 2) – allowing customers buy directly from within a ‘watercooler moment’ through storefronts on social networks, social media sites, forums, and blogs.  The advantage of offering distributed e-commerce facilities is that you can sell where your audience are, and make the shopping experience a natural extension of their interaction with the brand, and each other.

SocComToday likes Allurent’s three phase model – but in the spirit of completeness (and not just what allurent sells), we think the model should include onsite social commerce tools (ratings,  forums, blogs, SWYN (via Facebook Connect)) too.