Etsy is on the social commerce bandwagon big time. In theory, this should help the buyer who wants fine art and indie artisan work to find what they are looking for, by following the tastemakers of their choice in Etsy’s circles and activity feeds. Although it is too early to tell if Etsy’s move is visionary or vastly stupid, it is not too early to form an opinion and duke it out in Etsy’s forums!
I decided to do a bit of research on how social shopping is doing in general. here’s what I've found.
1) Social commerce works by allowing shoppers access to advice and recommendations from past buyers. Etsy’s feedback system is quite effective in this regard. I’m less convinced that following a person’s favorites or treasury lists is as effective.
2) Although 72% of retailers plan to spend more on social media marketing, less than 2% of orders among the retailers surveyed were the result of shoppers coming from a social network, according to The Purchase Path of Online Buyers report 2010, Forrester Research and GSI Commerce.
What does this tell us? That 98% of buyers are making up their own minds about what to buy, independent of what is posted on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest. Maybe this is because we don’t essentially rely on what is posted on the internet. Or maybe this this trend is still new and will grow in time.
3) The big winners so far in the social shopping arena are Groupon and Facebook. Both of these depend largely on sharing info about “deals” and discounts. This isn’t useful for art or artisan work.
4) The upside of social shopping is that it is engaging. People may stay on Etsy’s site longer in order to channel surf through all the various links to circles and favorites. Unfortunately this is all about as random as browsing new listings. Until our potential buyers are shown concentrated lists of the high quality artisan works that interest them, I’m not convinced that social shopping on Etsy is effective for us.
What do you think? Is social commerce working for you, as a buyer or seller? I’d love to know about your experience!
editorial by Lee Wolfe