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Get Your eCommerce Site Into the Social Media Age

So you’ve just invested tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on your new e-commerce site. Sales are great, conversions are rising, and your calls to action are performing as anticipated. As an emerging brand competing against global rivals, you’ve finally established a foothold in the market.

Yet your top advisers and industry experts are beginning to murmur about the next big trend in e-commerce, and about how social media will boost the e-commerce industry by $30 billion within the next two years.

Should you embark on a full-fledged revamp to incorporate new innovations? Or do you dip your foot in the water with baby steps to see what feels right? Take a look at the leading social e-commerce pioneers Fancy and Wanelo (the latter is leading the pack with traffic in excess of 1.3 million visitors a month). Deena Varshavskaya, founder and chief executive officer of Wanelo, describes the social e-commerce site’s mission as: “building a meta-layer on top of commerce,” adding that “the industry is fragmented and we’re bringing them into an interconnected network. You can find any store on Wanelo.”

Both Fancy and Wanelo are sites that offer shoppers a way to discover products from multiple retailers and leverage the crowd to rank relevant goods. Each site interface revolves around a product newsfeed, which is fueled by recommendations from everyday consumers with high-quality product images that are absent of brand logos and labels. The websites are built for discovery rather than search-driven shopping.

One of the major obstacles to creating a strong brand is generating the critical mass necessary for profitable growth. Luckily, social e-commerce tools and strategies cost next to nothing in comparison to the millions of dollars necessary for traditional marketing strategies and ad buys. When a company makes sharing purchases and favorite products seamless and intuitive, recommendations and positive social shares generate conversions.

Social e-commerce takes a route that trusts in the altruistic nature of satisfied consumers. As cited in a 2013 study by Market Force, 81 percent of U.S. shoppers surveyed admitted to the strong influence that social network recommendations from friends play in their decision to make a new purchase. By inciting consumers to curate products on their personal social networks (ie. Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr), up-and-coming brands can capture increased sales by making their products simpler to discover.

After developing dozens of e-commerce web and mobile websites for the world’s largest brands, we firmly know how valuable social can be in a conversion. Everyday, a number of established retailers rely on us to make sure we keep their digital storefront simple, efficient, and seamless for the millions of customers that buy from them. Such new techniques are being used as a way to better target increasingly digital savvy and technologically literate consumers.

There are a great deal of startups specializing in such services that provide the means to add Wanelo and Fancy-like functionality to an existing site, such as ‘share now’ buttons for purchase pages, ‘buy now’ buttons for company Pinterest pages, and more.

Here are a few that I’ve noticed. My company has no affiliation with any of them—but I believe they’re ones to watch.

Storenvy

Described as an e-commerce platform for “creators and makers, not marketers,” Storenvy offers hosting for independent online stores, in addition to aggregating store products to a discovery wall which is promoted on the homepage. Although not as heavy on discovery as Wanelo and Fancy, the site stresses quality products as the key to success. Founder and chief executive officer Jon Crawford views high quality and innovation as the key to tapping into social networks for more sales. Here’s what he says: “e-commerce doesn’t allow for MVPs. Everything needs to work and to be full featured the day it’s released. That’s just the nature of the beast.”

AddShoppers

AddShoppers specializes in ‘social marketing apps’ for e-commerce purposes. Users can effectively incorporate social features such as discovery walls, smart sharing buttons, social shopper login with Facebook and Twitter, and social rewards. All of these options can be used to augment an existing site. AddShoppers also integrates with a wide selection of existing e-commerce platforms used.

Chirpify

Chirpify allows customers to purchase from companies via Twitter and other networks.Chirpify integrates e-commerce directly into the feed of the world’s largest social networks. While retail is one major aspect of their operations, the company is branching out into sports, music, and other media. Social media users can respond to merchant posts with either “buy” or “gimme”. This system effectively turns your branded Tweets and Tumblr posts into calls to action that streamline the buying cycle.

Himanshu is the Founder/CEO of Icreon Tech.

Originally published on SocialMediaToday.