Social shopping, a combination of social media and an e-commerce marketplace, is changing how we make purchasing decisions. Social networks are now being directly integrated into e-commerce platforms, taking word-of-mouth advertising into the digital age. Social Media Today found a 2012 Nielsen Social Media Report that concluded, “Consumers frequently trust the recommendations of their peers, making social media an ideal platform to spread their ideas and purchase power.”
Consumers are now doing business in the “Recommended Age,” which is the age of curated retail communities, reviews, product discovery and personalized shopping. With the rise of social shopping, traditional consumer education principles are being replaced with declarations of consumer power.
Luvocracy, a social shopping network complete with a web application and mobile app, is stirring the pot.
It’s part Pinterest, part Amazon.com, part personal shopper. Luvocracy’s social media integrated e-commerce platform allows a customized shopping experience, allowing users to make purchasing decisions based on suggestions and reviews from friends and personal style influences. All while letting a team of personal shoppers do the time-consuming dirty work of deal hunting for you.
After using the site for a full weekend in search for a new wallet, here is what was discovered about the social shopping site.
1. Two minutes or less to sign up
Signing up for a retailer’s website should be a painless and simple venture.
Signing up for Luvocracy was easy. Going from their homepage to shopping took less than 90 seconds. To make your mobile set up a breeze, a general rule of thumb is to set up an account on your desktop computer first. Then, download the Luvocracy app (available for iPhone, iPad or Android) and simply sign in.
2. Search once, discover everything
How many usernames and passwords for various retailer sites are you keeping track of? Not only is having too many online accounts inconvenient, it puts your personal information at risk. Daily Mail reported that in 2012, the average person has 26 different accounts, but not enough passwords to go around.
Think of Luvocracy as the catalyst to decluttering your digital life. Upon sign in, you have access to a personalized shopping catalog based on your ‘trusted’ circle and product ‘luvs’. In my case, I wanted to narrow down my search to wallets. You search a keyword or product once, and an array of products and related products are there for you to browse through. Members can now focus on a personalized shopping experience relevant to their style from a network of online influencers and personal social media connections they trust, rather than recovering usernames and passwords.
3. Emotional value over brand recognition
While we’re on the topic, trust is a term rarely used in the world of retail. But trust takes form on Luvocracy. When you “trust” other members or Tastemakers profiles (much like following someone on Pinterest) their product “luvs” appear in your feed. Say goodbye to those automated recommendation emails or “other customers purchased” list.
Another great feature is the “Get Suggestions” option. What if you are shopping for a gift and you’re not sure what to get? Or, you don’t see the perfect gift in your feed? Simply ask those within your trusted circle (much like when Redditors present questions in their various subreddits). Overall, trusted sources and personal connections, when it comes to finding exactly what you are looking for, trump brand recognition.
4. Sharing is caring
Following in Pinterest’s footsteps, Luvocracy also offers a way for members to luv anything on the web. Installing the “Luv it” browser button, which is a simple drag and drop installation, allows you to share anything on the web onto your Luvocracy feed.
What’s also always share worthy is your honest review of a product. And Luvocracy pulls these reviews directly from your profile or from social media, particularly Twitter.
5. You are the purchaser, not the shopper
Remember those days of consumer homework? It was all up to the consumer to scour sales ads, daily deals, coupon codes, 48-hour sales and clip away at the Sunday paper to save.
When shopping on Luvocracy, the prices that are displayed while browsing are the maximum that you will pay for a particular item based on recent purchases made by other members. The magic happens when you are ready to buy. Hitting the “buy” button sends Luvocracy’s team of shoppers scouring the web for the best price within a network of trusted retailers.
But what about returns, a special deal on a retailer site, or a hunting down a sold out product? Your Luvocracy personal shopper will make sure that you get you that dream item at the lowest price, making sure that you take full advantage of advertised retailer sales and deals. If the product is sold out, they will hunt it down until they find it. If a product is no longer in production, Luvocracy will even contact the retailer or designer on your behalf to see if another production will be made. And while not currently available, they are working on an option that allows the purchaser to choose a preferred retailer at purchase.
6. Where’s my cut?
Have you ever recommended a product or service to someone? Word of Mouth marketing, even in today’s digital world, is still an effective tool that businesses continue to thrive on. However, would you ever expect to see a percentage of that sale that was made from your personal recommendation? Probably not. But, Luvocracy thinks you should.
Luvocracy rewards for purchases made through your recommendations, or products you “luv.” When a member purchases a product that you luv, members can earn up to four percent of the purchasing price. Tastemakers and Luvocracy members with a large social media influence can be rewarded up to 10 percent of the purchasing price. That’s called incentive!
From my “trusted” circle, I found and purchased a Paul Frank wallet. Since I purchased an item that a member featured as one of their “luvs,” she will receive her cut from the sale. And Luvocracy gave me a $10 credit for making my first purchase., with the discount applied at final checkout.
7. Keep the mobile app for browsing only
While Luvocracy is available on the go, I find that, with most retail sites, the web application is the only way to get the full Luvocracy experience. Reserve your smart phone for browsing and “luving.”
Destiny is a staff writer and social media manager for MyBankTracker.com. Her columns focus on money management and consumer spending.