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The mainstream press has caught the social shopping bug.  Forbes is the latest to have run an article on this area of social commerce – shopping tools powered by social media.  Summary and article archived below.

Top Takeouts

  • “The easier things are to buy, the more we consume. Just as we no longer have to search for news and great articles come our way via RSS, Tweets, Podcasts, etc., we really don’t have to search for products and services anymore. The things we need are finding us through social media.” (Erik Qualman, author of Socialnomics)
  • “[Facebook Connect] is making a Web without walls. Facebook allows you to go to other sites to comment, rate, etc., without having to set up a new profile for that site.” Instead, your Facebook identity is linked to sites like Tribesmart or Shopnics to allow you to shop virtually and share with Facebook friends. (Erik Qualman, author of Socialnomics)
  • But finding deals isn’t the full extent of shopping via social networking. If you’re looking for a new pair of shoes that won’t squeeze your wide feet, a search engine can help, but a post on your Facebook wall will result in faster responses from your most trusted critics–your friends.

Top Cases

  • Etsy is a popular online marketplace for buying and selling handmade goods, crafts and artwork that uses Facebook Connect to allow users to connect and share their Etsy Favorites and Etsy Shops with their friends on Facebook. (1,040,535 Twitter followers; 45,891 Facebook fans)
  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos believes in Twitter so much that he’s one of its major funders. The company uses both Twitter and Facebook Connect to share deals and promotions. (18,053 Twitter followers; 10,394 Facebook fans)
  • Spirit Airlines may not be a shopping company, but the discount airline has made full use of the spectrum of social networking sites. Daily bargain-basement flights are “tweeted” to followers and customer service reps are online to tweet users through purchases and in-flight issues in real time. (10,824 Twitter followers; 618 Facebook fans)
  • ThisNext is an online shopping hub where community members can make recommendations, get personalized suggestions from other members and write reviews to share with other users. Products are categorized by type (furniture, electronics, bags) but also by shopping list (Gossip Girl costume, breast cancer awareness) that are curated by staff and community members. (3,224 Twitter followers; 475 Facebook members)
  • ShopIt is a combination of e-commerce and social networking that enables visitors to sign in with their Facebook account and share products and interact with their friends on the site. Product reviews also link back to the users Facebook page so that their recommendations can be shared outside of the ShopIt community. (497 Twitter followers; 3,284 Facebook fans)
  • JC Penney’s The Doghouse is a viral campaign that features a video warning men about giving their wives bad gifts, and directs users to buy diamond jewelry gifts on JC Penney’s Web site as a way to “get out of the dog house.” Users can log in with their Facebook login to find out if they–or any of their friends–are in the doghouse and how to get back into their ladies’ good graces–through gifts, of course. (2,113 Twitter followers)
  • ShopStyle users become virtual fashion editors or interior designers by logging into the site and expressing their style through look books and tagged favorites. Deals and styles can be shared within the community of the site and shopped on ShopStyle, linked to blogs or e-mailed to friends. (444 Twitter followers; 606 Facebook fans)
  • Wists is short for “Weblists,” a shareable wish list of bookmarks for any page or product on the Web. Users install the Wists button to their browser and the site logs and shares bookmarked sites, fashion-finds, must-haves and great deals with friends and community members.
  • Cheaptweet.com culls Twitter feeds for deals and discounts on clothing, electronics and various services, searching for every coupon, discount and freebie in the Twitterverse and amassing them for users to pore over in real-time.
  • Shop It To Me is an online sale-alert e-mail service (not social media), has 2.5 million subscribers with links to items available both on sale and in their sizes from over 100 retailers, including Nicole Miller, Miu Miu, Ralph Lauren and Nine West

Shop Smarter With Social Media

Meghan Casserly, 11.03.09, 11:30 AM ET
http://www.forbes.com/2009/11/03/online-shopping-social-media-twitter-forbes-woman-time-facebook.html

Charlie Graham, founder and CEO of Shop It To Me, an online sale-alert e-mail service and Web site, wants to help you make better use of your time, particularly time spent shopping online.

Shop It To Me, launched in 2004, was born out of Graham’s love for all things sale: “I’d always find out about sales after the deal was over,” he says. “I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if you could tell someone what you like and your sizes, and they could make sure you never missed out?’ So that’s what I did.”

From an idea to a successful business. Shop It To Me now has over 2.5 million subscribers who receive daily e-mails with links to items available both on sale and in their sizes from over 100 retailers, including Nicole Miller, Miu Miu, Ralph Lauren and Nine West.

Graham and other media-savvy entrepreneurs are putting the Web to work to help their customers shop smarter, whether that means scoring deals in record time or discovering new brands and designers they wouldn’t normally come across in casual digital window shopping. But the newest wrinkle is in social media. Not just in using Facebook and Twitter–although that’s a big part of it–but incorporating the actual technology of social networking to help users share their own preferences and online finds.

“The easier things are to buy, the more we consume,” says Erik Qualman, author of Socialnomics and socialnomics.net, a blog that chronicles the way social networking is changing the U.S. economy. “Just as we no longer have to search for news,” Qualman points out, “and great articles come our way via RSS, Tweets, Podcasts, etc., we really don’t have to search for products and services anymore. The things we need are finding us through social media.”

Jenn Davis is CCE, or chief of community experience, for Cheaptweet.com, which uses a finely tuned mix of their own algorithm and Twitter to compete in the social-shopping arena. Cheaptweet.com culls Twitter feeds for deals and discounts on clothing, electronics and various services, searching for every coupon, discount and freebie in the Twitterverse and amassing them for users to pore over in real-time.

But finding deals isn’t the full extent of shopping via social networking. If you’re looking for a new pair of shoes that won’t squeeze your wide feet, a search engine can help, but a post on your Facebook wall will result in faster responses from your most trusted critics–your friends. “That’s the power behind a tool like Facebook Connect,” says Qualman, a platform that allows third-party sites to share the information of its users, including their likes and dislikes of various products and services.

“It is making a Web without walls,” Qualman continues. “Facebook allows you to go to other sites to comment, rate, etc., without having to set up a new profile for that site.” Instead, your Facebook identity is linked to sites like Tribesmart or Shopnics to allow you to shop virtually and share with Facebook friends.

Both Davis’ and Graham’s teams have seen a growth in their businesses since the economy started to trip. “Reason No. 1 is that we’re seeing retailers putting things on sale much faster in order to move product,” says Graham. “And secondly there’s been a shift in the mind of the consumer.” Where style was once the priority, price has become the driving force.

He also points to the increasing trend of free shipping and returns from online retailers as a factor in the rise in his–and all online–sales. Jenn Davis agrees: “It’s the logical next step. People are trying to save any penny they can, and social media allows us to share that information openly and efficiently.”

[link to top social shopping sites]