THE BLOG

Buzzword: Social Commerce

26/09/2013 14:02 BST | Updated 25/11/2013 10:12 GMT

As consumers, our demand is not only directed by our needs, but by the needs of others. The fashion e-commerce has started to spot this notion of 'I want it too' to enable and encourage buyers to upload photos of their products to use as a marketing tool of 'social proofing'. According to a survey by PowerReviews a *like* on Facebook is the most influential factor of customer's purchasing experience, so the security of purchasing a product with a user-generated image is the latest necessary incentive. This aesthetically-driven strategy is marketing made easy and emphasises the authenticity of customer satisfaction. More significantly, if the product looks great on someone else - or even if the product is highly unremarkable but the person wearing it looks great - we are more likely to buy it.

Rent the Runway, where visitors are 200% more likely to make a purchase after viewing the images uploaded by users who have previously rented as wearing a dress from Rent The Runway is like wearing a story and adding your own to it. One of the great things about this is that despite the lack of ownership the item is personal, associated with a collection of special days and positive memories.

Companies are not struggling to social proof their products, as we generously upload high-quality images (lots of filter, lots of airbrushing) on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, to the envy of our followers and friends; thereby, putting a stamp of approval on that new dress from Topshop or the latest Apple accessory. Grabbing this opportunity, a New-York based company founded three years ago, Olapic, has become the home of the best images from photo-sharing sites that are accessed using a simple hashtag search linking customers to the product they are looking for and the place to buy it. What's more, it's system reveals sales generated by each image - numeric proof that visual aid from previous customers have a real effect on e-commerce.

Boasting with clients such as Guess, Coach and Desigual, as well as smaller brands like the jeweller BaubleBar, Olapic's innovative idea is definitely having a positive effect on the fashion industry, as co-founder of BaubleBar, Daniella Yacobovsky, highlights, public images integrate the product into a ready-made look, boosting it's appeal, as she states that it's online audience 'shared what they wear and how they style their BaubleBar jewellery on social networks.'

Similarly, the traditional experience of retail therapy is about to seduce us, thanks to a special app called Knomi, making shopping a quicker and more personalised practice. As of October, shoppers can volunteer their photo ID and personal information - likes, dislikes, sizes - to sales associates, creating relationships between the buyer and seller that are necessary for that added value customers are looking for. As well as this new-age technological influence to increase retailer's loyal customer base, Don Williams, Head of Retail at BDO LLP, suggests the economy is a motivating factor for businesses to 'take steps to understand the psychology of the new consumer [as] people are becoming much more demanding - they want a personalised experience without paying a premium for it. That means consumers want to buy from retailers who target and treat them as individuals.' Efficient, contemporary and intelligent, perhaps Knomi is the answer to this concern.

More likely than not, technology makes the otherwise basic activities in our daily lives a little brighter, in both senses. It is the difference between a regular human being shop assistant and one armed with a tablet and a Knomi app - the equivalent of Harry Potter's all-knowing, all-doing magic wand. Recognising your consumer and their needs is a major advantage and user-generated pictures to brand products is the baby-step that gives companies a competitive edge. Apps like Knomi will be a welcome addition to our App Store and Olapic may be on its way to changing the e-commerce culture, as it could become customer's first-point of reference before making a purchase. As customers have gained a stronger presence than ever in the running of businesses - from the design stage to marketing the products, using real-life images is just another way to encourage engagement with the brand that benefits everyone involved.

Words by: Nicole Stevenson for chloédigital.