The future of shopping online?

I’ve been wanting to write something about ‘Social Shopping’ for a while but never had any specific examples I could share with you until now.


Firstly, what do I mean when I say ‘Social Shopping’.


This is in fact a term used for many things; the power of crowds to rate and review as in Crowdstorm; the ability to add items from any website to a centralised wish list as in List Ideas and Kaboodle; and now we’ll add into the mix: the ability to quite literally shop with a friend on line!


Intrigued? I was when I first heard what Vans were doing. So the site works like any other hyper flash ecommerce store for a funky shoe brand but this has a small difference.  If you select the custom show option, you’re taken to a microsite, which asks you to select the base shoe etc. Once you get the customisation part, you’re invited to ‘Chat with Your Friends’. This takes the form of a pop-up box where you select if you want to email them a link or chat via AIM.



Once you actually manage to do this, you’ll both basically be
seeing the same screen at the same time so in theory, when I pick
fandango pink as the base colour, my very good friend who can see my
every move would stop me and say perhaps I should select something
slightly more manly, like the ‘swirly hearts’ pattern…well, that’s what
friends are for.


The truth is, I really love the concept and I’ve been wanting to
implement something like this for a while, but budget and tech had
never allowed for the opportunity. In reality, I only managed to get
the Vans site to work for me just the once. Perhaps it was because I
was on a Mac, or all the friends I attempted this with were luddites,
but I’m sure that for the target audience, this would be just one of a
multiple of chat interfaces that they would be operating at any one
time whilst finishing that GCSE project and nailing the last level on
Grad Theft Auto 12.


It doesn’t stop there. A couple of weeks back, Coast
(high street occasional wear for women) re-launched their newly
designed website with a new feature within the Fitting Room section
called ‘Group Shop’.




This has similar functionality to the Vans site however it requires more planning as you have to invite friends to a pre-agreed time slot whereupon everyone clicks on their click and hey, you have Sex in the City right there on your laptop!


So there you have it. Social Shopping is finally here – ish. I’m not entirely sold on either website’s social shopping functionality or their reliability, but hats off to them for giving it a go. Will it have mass appear? We’ll have to wait and see.


Let me know if you’ve come across anything similar during your web travels.