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Social shopping is becoming more and more user friendly. Instead of needing to export links to a third-party site, such as StyleHive or ShopStyle, new applications allow for collaborations with friends on the actual retailer’s site. Friend-based merchandising means that customers bring their friends to the e-retailer so they can shop together.

Friends often influence shoppers when they are ready to make a purchase and offer recommendations; 65 percent of consumers say they trust their friends, whereas only 27 percent trust experts or salespeople’s opinions. Retailers using technology to encourage friends to shop together online have already achieved a 15 percent increase in online sales and higher conversion rates, which refer to the number of browsing customers who become actual purchasing customers.

On the Web site of Charlotte Russe, an apparel retailer for teens, customers can browse independently or see what friends are viewing, show friends some items, chat with friends, and save items in a favorites list. Other retailers using the ShopTogether technology include GNC and Lillian Vernon.

Facebook applications give friends easy access; many retail sites offer an “e-mail a friend” feature, which sends a link of the product or service to an e-mail address, as well as a Facebook link to invite friends’ comments on a product.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How are retailers using the ShopTogether technology for social shopping? 
  2. What are the benefits of this technology to retailers? To their customers?

Amanda Ferrante, “Charlotte Russe Takes Social Shopping a Step Further with ShopTogether App,” RetailTouchPoints.com, May 07, 2009.