Friday, November 26, 2010

The advent of Social Commerce

Of late, I had been thinking how Social Media could be integrated into various other realms. This time, how it can be plugged into E-Commerce. So, here goes...
So, what exactly is Social commerce? 
Well, in very simple words, Social Commerce is the use of Social Media in an E-Commerce environment.

As we all know, with the increasing amount of users on Social Networks (especially Facebook and Twitter) every day, the scope for carrying out Business on them has grown enormously.
Almost all the Sellers/Vendors have forayed into Social Media and made a significant presence there, in terms of their brand recognition and fan following. Thanks to Social Media, all of them have been able to build their own respective communities and narrowed down on their buyers to a great extent. Social Media is a great channel to reach out to your customers. Be it the arrival of the latest range of products or promotional deals or sales, the followers are up-to-date with everything.
As per a comScore Report, 23% of Twitter users follow businesses to find special deals, promotions, or sales, while 14% of Twitter users reported taking to the stream to find and share product reviews and opinions. According to another study by Chadwick Martin Bailey, it was observed that 25% of consumers connected to brands on Facebook did so to receive discounts. Another interesting fact that comScore found was- Facebook and Twitter visitors spend 1.5x more online than average Internet users. Therefore, with growing number of users on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, the tendency to spend online also augments.


Social Commerce now has under its fold a variety of social media tools and content used in the context of e-commerce. A few of them are:
  • Customer ratings
  • Customer reviews
  • User recommendations
  • Social Shopping tools
  • Dedicated platforms (Forums and communities)
  • SEO
  • Social Advertising
More and more companies are coming up with strategies to capitalize on Social Commerce. Facebook came out with a new strategy wherein its members who use the company’s location-based ‘Places’ feature will be alerted to special deals and discounts offered by retailers in their vicinity. The users can take advantage of this feature by showing their phones at participating stores. Facebook said that this action would be posted on users’ news feed so that their friends might also utilize the special offers. Amazon is charting out its strategy as well.
Few of the most popular Social Commerce players are Amazon, Best Buy, Starbucks, Dell and Hallmark.
And here are a list of Social Commerce sites
  • ShopSocially
  • Kactoos
  • Groupon
  • BuyWithMe
So, what more do the Sellers need now, they’ve got dedicated Communities with active Conversations happening and now even the Commerce factor comes in to play. Your time is Now!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Significance of 'Why'

Among the six honest serving men- Who, What, Why, Where, When and How that I had mentioned in my last blog, I find Why to be the most intriguing one.

The use of ‘Why’, questions the mere existence of an entity! It can refer to the following words
·         Reason
·         Purpose
·         Explanation
·         Rationale
·         Motive
·         Cause
·         Intention
‘Why’ is a question that one should ask himself repeatedly all the time. It forms the very motive behind him carrying out any action or task in his day-to-day life.

Many of us simply fail to see the very purpose or the reason for the occurrence of certain events in our lives. It’s time we start paying heed to these ‘signs’ and work towards exploring them. And if there is any threat from these signs, try to find a solution. Never leave these signs unattended. For who knows, they could very well spell your doom!

Almost all of us go by this catchphrase- Everything happens for a reason. In some cases this reason refers to future prospects while in others, it simply refers to consequences of a past activity.

For instance, in the case of Global Warming, it was observed that there were variations in the temperature of Earth as well as the ocean’s temperature. So, Scientists and Researchers set about their task of finding the Why behind this phenomena. After extensive research and study, it was discovered that it was caused by increasing concentrations of Green House Gases, which resulted from human activities (deforestation, burning of fossil fuels, etc.). Subsequently, crucial measures were taken to arrest this problem and the necessary solutions were planned and implemented. Just imagine, if those signs were ignored, it would have put all the earthlings’ lives at risk.

At the turn of the millennium, ‘Why’ was rechristened as simply ‘Y’ and used extensively in instant chats, emails, blogs, SMSes and almost everywhere. Young children who often asked their parents- How and Why were received with either misleading or no answers at all. Students did not have the courage to clear their doubts by posing questions. But today, times have changed. All the queries of the kids and school students are being entertained and innovative ways are being devised out to answer them. Thanks to the web, we don’t need to go too far to find answers to our queries. We have got more inquisitive about everything that concerned us in some way or the other. Be it Nature or Politics or our own health as a matter of fact. And we try to find more and more solutions and if any problems arise, we try to conquer them.

Remember Even in You, ‘Y’ comes first. So when its anything to do with you, you first need to know ‘why’.

Simon Sinek, a marketing consultant and the author of ‘Start with Why’ clearly emphasizes on the use of Why.

So, before you set out for your goals and destinations, and make plans for the future, make sure you start with Why!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Question everything!

Rudyard Kipling, the famous author had quoted in his poem- "The Elephant's Child"
I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who
I strongly feel the need for us- the whole of mankind to take assistance from these six men in our day-to-day lives. All our actions must be based on the resultant answer we get, by asking these six men. I believe the resultant answer will weigh heavily in terms of ethic, logic and practicality and thus justify humans in the sanctity of truth, honesty, integrity and righteousness.
To put it in simpler words, I’d say that one needs to constantly ask himself these 6 questions- What, Why, When, How, Where and Who, before performing any action in his life. When he receives a Clear answer to those questions, he should go about those actions without a second thought. Every action is justified in this case. But, the moment he fails to get a clear answer to those questions from his conscience, he should stop. If he does go about doing that task or activity despite the ‘warning’, he is bound to be at a loss. The loss/failure may not be of materialistic nature but purely based on ethic, logic and practicality.
This concept is widely used in Journalism, Research, Police Investigation, Strategy building and other fields as well. The very basis of these fields is – Questioning Everything. Unless and until you question, you’ll not get the answers and it’s based on these answers that you need to build your foundation and eventually, reach a solution to the given problem. This is referred to as the process of Information gathering to get a Complete story of some occurrence/incident/thing.
Coming back to the six honest serving men,
  1.  Who? Refers to the Participants/Stakeholders
  2.  What? Refers to the Event/Happening/Occasion
  3.  Where? Refers to the Venue/Location
  4.  When? Refers to the Time and Date
  5.  Why? Refers to the Reason/Purpose
  6.  How? Refers to the Process/Modus Operandi/Course/Route
Following the above rule, let’s see how we can apply this in our lives. Consider a simple example-
A 15-year old kid, just out of school, wants a bike.
We start the process by asking questions. The questions need to be asked to all the stakeholders or the people involved with the idea.
Q1. Who?
Ans: The kid, his Parents and the Showroom
Q2. What?
Ans: The Motorbike
Q3. Where?
Ans: The answer for this question could possibly be -The bike is available at the showroom
Q4. When?
Ans: The answer for this question could possibly be - As soon as possible or in the next 10 days or in the next 2 weeks, etc.
Q5: Why?
Ans: The answer for this question could possibly be – Since the kid stays far away from college, a bike would help him commute comfortably, also saving a lot of time and energy.
Q6: How?
Ans: The answer for this question could possibly be- Convince the parents, i.e Sell the idea to the parents. Receive a feed back- Yes or No. Depending on that answer: if it’s a Yes, Select the bike of your choice, go and buy the bike after making the payment.
If it’s a No, forget about the bike or keep trying to convince your parents

Another question that becomes a part of this process is- ‘Which’. But, it is a sub-module of How in most cases. ‘Which’ refers to choice. In the above case, the choice of Bike answers the ‘Which’ question. This answer is again dependent on other factors. In the above case, the factors may be Brand, Mileage, Looks, Budget, Comfort, Manoeuvrability, etc.

The Application of this law in our lives should reap rich benefits, and the best part is the ‘Feel Good factor’. When we do something good, for ourselves or others, we get a really good response from our Conscience and that is one feeling that cannot be felt in any other way. 
So, always remember- The first step of the Learning process is Questioning. Develop a sense of curiosity. Keep Questioning and seek answers for the same. 

Happy Questioning! :)