Social Shopping and Communities

With Forrester Research projecting that holiday sales will reach more than $33 billion this season, many of us are looking outside of traditional internet shopping experiences to understand what makes Web 2.0 shopping sites successful. Here are some examples that shape a successful community shopping experience for me.

I am drawn to the visually pleasing sites that entice me, even before I become a customer. They offer a variety of self-service methods to appeal to different types of users – like browsing, or doing advanced parametric searches. For example hi-tech sites tend to use visual decision trees that contain photos of products help orient me to my product, and guide me down a particular discovery path. Other sites allow me to search by price range (like, by recipient, and even by personality like gadget geek or mom-to-be (like

I like the interactive sites that rely on RIA based technologies like AJAX. They offer  for example sliders for price range pickers, or a color palette to search for items of a single color to make my shopping experience fun. Check out for some examples!

Let peer pressure help you out by displaying your top searches or hot buys – both which serve as good indicators of current trends. does a good job at this.

Sites that push relevant service alerts or policy changes to me, or allow me to subscribe to content are true productivity-boosters. One especially useful time saver is to allow me to create watchlists so that I can be alerted when an item goes on sale.  Check out who does this!

Sites that I have learnt to trust have brought their user community to the forefront. Kaboodle, for example, touts “shopping is more fun with friends”. These sites tap into this collective wisdom of their user community by appending feedback forms to all content and letting users’ rate content.

All these strategies and tools help streamline the shopping experience, and use the community input to validate purchase decisions.

My question to you is are you implementing any web 2.0 shopping on your sites? And what strategies work for you, personally?