E-Commerce: From Transaction To Expertise

E-commerce: from transaction to experience

Online shopping is generally a one-off activity – more about the outcome of the purchase than about the experience. But will that change?

The shopping spree

One thing physical retail has over e-commerce is shopping as a shared experience. Shopping with friends is part of our culture. Your first shopping trip with friends is a rite of passage and a completely different experience than being drawn through the shops with your parents. Show objects to friends, get valuable opinions and recommendations (and maybe even friendly abuse, "do you like this?").

A shopping day is a social activity, the value of which is so much higher than the products you may return home with.

Physical retail has had a major impact on e-commerce, but there has always been "shopping as event" as an ace card. A shared social experience that e-commerce, as a rather lonely activity, has by no means repeated. However, this is not necessarily the case in China.

Social e-commerce

Online shopping in groups is a popular activity in China. It is estimated that more than $ 413 billion of goods will be sold through social e-commerce in China by 2022. This is almost a fivefold increase from $ 90 billion in 2017. One of the most important platforms for this is Pinduoduo (pictured), translated as "together". More savings. More fun. “The platform encourages users to create“ buying teams ”on social media to buy items in groups. The more buyers, the lower the price. Pinduoduo is the second most popular e-commerce platform in China and was developed for people who want to "share, explore and buy" together. The format is more experience-oriented than transactional and promotes the “fun discovery that is normally associated with offline shopping”.

Although popular in China, western cultures have been slow to pick up on this trend. However, with the enforced COVID-19 ban we've seen in a number of countries, people have become more used to virtual group activities. Whether it's pub zoom quizzes, watching movies with Netflix Party, or listening to a music album on Tim's Twitter Listening Party, we're getting used to doing things together. So why not shop?

Squadded Shopping Party, a newly launched app, is a new attempt to make this shared shopping experience accessible to a western audience. From encouraging shopping with friends to engaging with a brand's community, the app is an attempt to socialize online shopping.

Win win?

Both parties have a value here – companies and people. The value for companies can be increased purchases. According to a recent article on the subject, 54% of people surveyed by research firm Nielsen said they increased spending on unplanned purchases in 2019. 80 percent of those surveyed stated that social recommendations such as suggestions from friends and social media groups stimulated these impulse purchases. & # 39; That seems fair. People can be made to buy if they are encouraged by friends they are with. A value for people is shared social experience, but it can also be transactional to get better deals. One element of Pinduoduo's offering is that people can lower the unit price of an item by increasing the quantity they buy (that is, getting friends to buy).

From lonely to social

Now that we are all more comfortable with online experiences together, is it time for online trading to take advantage of this?

If a brand is partially shaped by the customer experience, social e-commerce is a great opportunity to change the online experience of a retail brand.

By shifting online shopping from a transactional activity to a shared experience – from retail to social activities – retailers can help create shared moments that people can remember and connect with the brand.

Maybe we'll see more people enjoying social e-commerce – shopping separately.

Contribution to the Branding Strategy Insider by: Paul Bailey, Strategy Director at Halo – a brand new agency in the UK.

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