In the previous posts, I have written about why providing a social experience in online shopping is useful for the shoppers as well as the retailers. I have also talked about why Facebook and social networks are not the be-all and end-all means to enable social experiences. In this post, I am going to talk about one of the mis-understood mediums which can also be used to enable social shopping.
Email. Email is often seen as a one-to-one communication network. But, there are means by which email can help shopper shop better by access to relevant information from the other shoppers and their activities on the retailer website which is the essence of social.
I will start with an example. Recently, Flipkart sent me an email after a few days I bought a book from their website. In the email, they had asked me to write the review of the book. In addition to that, the email said that if I do write a feedback, then I will receive notifications when other readers have recomemmended like-minded books. I said, awesome. I’d like to know what people with my taste are reading. This is clearly an example of social shopping. It is connecting like minded shoppers.
Now, if I think about it this cannot be the end. Even though people are not on the website, they can get relevent information about the activity of like-minded shoppers. If we think hard, then we can replicate this model for any kind of significant activities. Going further, one can also follow certain shoppers or follow some products. I’d be very interested in a service where I’d be notified about a book which I am interested to buy in but has not made up my mind totally – a gentle nudge with recommendations from shoppers with whom I had connected in the past will be a tipping point for me to buy the book.
Though, this seems like a very easy model, my strong gut feeling is that it can be incredibly hard to get it right without being rendered useless and spammy. A word of caution here is that, spam emails can be devastating for the health of this kind of a service. Integrated and very very well meaning emails can be very helpful, I believe. One should not schedule an email for every activity which the shopper has subscribed to and certainly not for every activity. I’d bet on this service even though the traffic might be less but will be of higher quality.
Footnote – These kind of emails are not transactional emails. Even so, spamming will not help.