What do you get when you combine an online craze like social networking with a more traditional pastime like shopping? Lots of good advice and some great products you may not have found otherwise. Thanks to the Internet’s ability to harness the knowledge of the masses, a number of new sites are cropping-up to provide consumers with better choice when it comes to buying goods online.
As Saul Hansell from the New York Times reports, little known retailers who are struggling to compete against the big guns like Macys, Target and Wal-Mart are now getting some much-welcome attention through the new ‘social shopping’ phenomenon, which entails gathering people in one place to swap ideas and provide suggestions on the best products to purchase.
But will these new methods of finding wares online truly enable the little guys to compete with the giants? Especially in light of the fact that what some call “the chaining of America” is in full throttle?
Sure, people want the ability to buy products that are unique – who wants to wear the same outfit or own the same couch as their neighbor – but are they willing to go to sometimes great lengths online to find that special deal?
A recent report in the UK suggests that they are, saying that the Internet is slowly moving to kill offline retailers. But, I’m still not convinced that people are motivated enough to spend the time needed on their computers to make physical stores a thing of the past. Not when they can get the benefits of social shopping offline in stores like Gap’s Forth and Towne. And besides, shopping online takes the fun out of the game – you can’t touch, feel, try on or really see what you’re buying.
No matter what happens to the world of shopping as we know it today, rest assured that both online and offline retailers are dreaming up new ways to entice us, and to make both experiences more enjoyable – or so we hope. All in time to capitalize on this year’s holiday buying frenzy.