Gone are the days when store promotions and newsletters were the only way to learn about the latest trends. Today, the average shopaholic can find a wealth of information about new products, brands and collections by joining a social shopping network. Right in step with holiday season, social shopping networks lead the way in promoting brands and products, rounding up enthusiastic shoppers who provide insights and commentary on their latest discoveries and preferred products. A combination of blogging and MySpace-style social networking, the online revolution of social shopping and Web 2.0 is making life in the retail lane far more valuable than a trip to the store.
Product recommendations and testimonials on company websites are pushed aside with consumer-generated opinions on sites such as StyleFeeder, ThisNext, and StyleHive. Each platform offers a place to find profiles of many A-list bloggers from the shopping, beauty and style domain, along with thousands of loyal brand followers and fashion-savvy shoppers. Products are ranked according to popularity, along with insights, comments, and opinions about each item. With free membership and easy navigation, these sites are helping many shoppers learn the art of comparing and discovering the latest trends. It’s word-of-mouth marketing at its best, a place for like-minded shoppers to share, promote, discover, and their latest finds.
‘Blogrebities’ are one part of the fast-growing crowds populating social networking sites today. Each site is home to its own set of niche communities, a combination of actual brand representatives, fashion magazine editors , style bloggers, and even on-screen celebrities that share their knowledge and insights on what they like each season—and in some cases, what is simply no longer en vogue.
StyleFeeder launched in February 2007 to lead the way in the social shopping experience. As one of the web’s first ‘personal shopping engines,’ StyleFeeder encourages users to shop with friends within a personal shopper community. Making the right decision before a purchase is easy with a simple download; recommendations and search results are personalized so that every fashionista can make the best decision with ratings, comments, and feedback from Style Experts on the site. Celebrity StyleFeeders showcase a few famous closets and wish lists; Mary Kate Olsen and Kelly Rowland are just two celebrities that are ready to share their thoughts on style with millions of fans.
ThisNext is one of the largest social shopping networks, a powerful search engine that hosts profiles of all types of shoppers, along with even more celebrity participants. ThisNext brings like-minded shoppers together, featuring its signature ‘BlogIt’ tool that allows users to embed their wish lists on their own blog, and a ‘Shopcasting’ feature to share the latest lists and discoveries with thousands of readers. ThisNext’s keyword and tagging features also make it easy to search and filter by category. From gifts for grandma to an exotic honeymoon idea, a quick search is all it takes to discover what the world is actually buying—and thinking about.
StyleHive is a global social shopping community, a feature-rich shopping site that allows users to rate, rank, and explore thousands of products with ease. StyleHive allows shoppers to build their own shopping magazine to create a following all their own; sharing bookmarks, sending out wish lists, and creating themed personal lists are just a few ways to climb the ranks of this community shopping site. A ranking of active and new participants also makes it easy to find out who to trust for noteworthy recommendations, and users can become ‘followers’ of the most active Hive members to track the latest insights and discoveries.
Each social shopping site runs several themed newsletters, contests, and other promotions to draw potential shoppers in for the latest news. From bargain hunting to finding the ultimate in luxury, it’s easy to build and share a wish list—and take part in a popularity contest. Users interested in promoting blogs and websites can also include direct links to specific posts, directing hundreds of viewers to the source of their latest discovery.
Today’s tech-savvy shopper no longer relies on magazines, television, or newsletters for the latest news on fashion. A social shopping community offers plenty of benefits, allowing shoppers around the world to share their likes and dislikes in a fresh—and even addictive—way.