How Retail Can Do Social Better

Retailers know that social shopping presents a new, real opportunity, but many can’t quite figure out how to integrate social experiences with their e-commerce websites., the online shoe and apparel shop, cracked the code early. At Digiday’s Retail Summit this week in Laguna Beach, Calif., Alice Han, ux designer/product lead at Zappos, spoke about the unique challenges of social commerce.

“It’s really hard for a brand to inject themselves between people and their friends,” she said. “A lot of companies have tried Facebook stores. They weren’t successful. Part of the reason was that Facebook is like hanging out with your friends at a bar. That’s not to say that Facebook isn’t a great entry point to shopping.”

Social networks might be a place to talk to customers and boost traffic to retail websites, she said, though it might not be the best for direct sales. So who is doing it right? Han pointed to startups like and the Facebook app Soldsie as companies doing interesting experiments with social retail. Soldsie, for example, allows users to buy products through retailers’ Facbeook pages by simply typing “sold” into the comments field.

Here’s what she learned from watching them, and from her own time at Zappos. Larger retailers looking to boost social sales take note:

Treat social commerce as research and development.
“Do a ton of research about your users, user needs, and what are the gaps are in their shopping experiences.”

Create a culture of experimentation.
“You want to be a mad scientist. You want to experiment and see what works and doesn’t work.”

Measure carefully.
“At our office, we do a ton of A/B tests. Even from something as small as the way you’re displaying an image can make a difference.”

Learn quickly and iterate.
“If you have an idea, you don’t need to make it pixel perfect and cover every single use case,” said Han. “If you can cover the idea and the concept on a very basic level, and quickly learn how users will engage with it, that’s sufficient to see if you should invest more in the product.”

Watch the full presentation below.

Why is Social Commerce So Hard? How Zappos is Navigating Social from Digiday on Vimeo.

Image via Shutterstock
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