Elements of successful Social Commerce websites

Aug 15, 2012

Table of contents:

  1. Fab - Rewards for sharing
  2. Threadless - Easy social sharing
  3. Jack Threads - Big beautiful product images
  4. Busted Tees - Easy product selection
  5. Gilt - Membership features (Favourites)
  6. Etsy - Real time product stats
  7. FarFetch - Facebook likes
  8. Conclusion

On Monday I talked about The rise of “Ecommerce 2.0” and the new wave of Social Commerce that is sweeping the Internet. Social Commerce has opened up a whole new world of possibilities in an industry that was firmly dominated by just a few key players.

But Social Commerce can be a difficult thing to get right. There are a number of features that have become synonymous with Social Commerce, and so, to position yourself as a player within this vertical, you need to get your website right.

Here are some common features and ideas that have propelled a number of companies to the forefront of Social Commerce. Hopefully it will give you so inspiration and some ideas when you are designing and developing your new Social Commerce website.

Fab - Rewards for sharing

Fab has shown hockey stick like growth over the last couple of years due to the strong targeting of Social Commerce and referrals. Any Fab customer can earn rewards for referring their friends to become a customer, and these rewards can go up to £500! Fab makes it easy to invite friends with a dedicated page and simple link that can be shared via Twitter, Facebook or Email.

Threadless - Easy social sharing

Threadless is one of the largest T-shirt retailers due to their unique designs and style. Threadless T-shirts are always beautiful and are a very share-worthy product. Threadless has made it easy for people to share their favourite designs to Social Networks like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest by having a large Social buttons section on each product page.

Jack Threads - Big beautiful product images

In Social Commerce, it is all about desirable products. A desirable product is something that will be shared and curated on content websites like Pinterest or Svpply. Jack Threads provide perfect ammunition for this by offering big beautiful images and a way to see the finer details of each product.

Busted Tees - Easy product selection

One of the common themes of Social Commerce is the big effort to create seamless and usable experiences. Due to the fact that Social Commerce is a brand new opportunity, it seems to have been released from the shackles of legacy User Interface and User Experience Design. Busted Tees, for example, makes it extremely easy to choose a product, a type, a size and add it to your cart in one simple process.

Gilt - Membership features (Favourites)

Social Commerce has really taken the idea of Ecommerce and combined it with the best features of Social Media. Gilt allows members to “favourite” items so that customers can curate a list of their favourite items. Social Networking has introduced a number of features like favouriting to the everyday lives of Internet users. Social Commerce websites can take advantage of this new found understanding of these tools to build even stickier websites.

Etsy - Real time product stats

The Internet is now a real time network of what is going on in the world. From trends on Twitter, to what is hot and not, real time stats can make a big difference to even Social Commerce websites. Etsy makes good use of product data by displaying it on each product page.

FarFetch - Facebook likes

Whilst I’ve mentioned Social Sharing above, one of the most important Social proof elements not to miss are Facebook Likes. When Facebook introduced Likes to the world, it enabled Facebook’s influence to spread across the whole of the Internet. By displaying a Like button on your products, you enable your visitors to easily share it with their friends in a frictionless way. It also shows as a social proof that other people like this product. If you have products with hundreds or thousands of likes, they will become much more desirable to passing traffic.


As you can see, many of the elements above follow the theme of allowing customers to quickly and easily purchase and share the products they love.

Ecommerce is a daunting opportunity to take on. You might look at the likes of the established brands, and think you could never compete.

But your small size is a actually a huge advantage. You can implement new social features and experiment with social opportunities and new business models without the risk that a large company has.

Social Commerce has been categorised by a young set of companies that have taken a chance on the Social uprising of the Internet. If you want to become a player in Social Commerce, you need to break out of the traditional model and seek new opportunities where others have not explored.

Social Commerce is also all about building a niche community of people that love your product, your industry and everything you stand for. You need to seek these hardcore people out and indulge their interests and their love. Nearly everything has become a commodity these days. By building exclusivity, uniqueness and a sense of community, you can create value and a huge opportunity for your brand.

Philip Brown


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