Hiroshi Mikitani, founder and CEO of Rakuten, the largest e-commerce site in Japan and among the world’s largest by sales, poses an interesting question on LinkedIn: Does social media pose a threat to e-commerce?
He answers his question by asserting that, for e-commerce, “social networks [are] less [of] a threat” and should be seen “more as potential collaborators”. But is it right to put social media and e-commerce into separate silos? We are fast approaching an online business ecosystem in which social media and e-commerce are seamlessly integrated. Some call this model of business “social commerce”, a term coined by Yahoo in 2005. (Wikipedia: social commerce)
Simply having a social presence does not mean a brand is engaging in social commerce, but sites such as Etsy, which allow user profiles, reviews, feedback and comments offer an intensely social experience for users. And, of course, we are seeing Facebook and other large social networks exploring ways to introduce onsite shopping. Conversely, traditional e-commerce sites, such as Amazon and eBay, are trying to socialize the shopping experience. So rather than social versus e-commerce, we see a world emerging in which buying something online is as much a social experience as it is a shopping experience.