Session: Social Shopping: the Future of Selling Stuff Online
I don’t know if people around the world are familiar with a Chinese internet titan called Taobao. Taobao is an online auction and shopping site, similar to eBay, operated by Alibaba Group. I admit that I am a huge fan of Taobao; in fact the whole Porter Novelli Beijing Office is addicted to it. Not only because things on Taobao are ridiculously cheap, but also for its innovation and creativity. Taobao is the first Chinese online shopping site that goes social: They have developed a special IM for communications between sellers and shoppers, while consumers can show off what they have just bought and share experiences of shopping on its SNS platform. In China, more and more online business is going social, following Taobao’s success. And they did not copycat: instead, many modes and patterns are created.
Another good example is Vancl, a local apparel brand which is growing fast. On the Vancl SNS, consumers share their own looks and vote for favorite looks every day. I guess this idea was generated from LookBook (www.lookbook.nu).
Meanwhile, China’s social media are going shopping as well. Sina Weibo, known as China’s Twitter, developed an online app for users to buy and sell stuffs. Douban, a major SNS with users of book, music and movie lovers, introduced the function which allows users to compare prices from different online bookstores and cinemas last year.
This is the trend. Nowadays, online shopping is no longer simply giving you product intro and price. It must take on more responsibilities. In other words, you should provide more to consumers. A few questions to ask online sellers:
- What’s the relation between you and your consumers? What information do you offer?
- What’s the relation between your consumers? Do they come in random crowds or do they form a community?
- For what else reason your consumers choose to go to you? Do they have fun shopping with you?
This is why we suggested one of our clients in China, a huge furniture brand who already had online shop and social media account then, to connect the two for better sales. We told consumers on Sina Weibo (I’ve mentioned it above. Remember it, extremely important in China!) that we were going to have a Sale Day at the online shop, and the sale rate was to be determined by consumers themselves: the more tweets, the lower prices they’ll get. What happened was that consumers formed community to beat the price, and the results were fantastic: the lowest rate was achieved, sales grew, and followers tripled.
So if you are doing online business in China, consider to ‘socialize’ it. You know, China is socialist after all. But no, no Groupon style any more. (There are 50+ such sites now in China.) BTW, Groupon finally entered China weeks ago, cooperating with China’s biggest portal and SNS, QQ.com.