The value of mixing e-commerce and social media is being explored actively in China, reports Clickz, after collaboration this summer between Sina Weibo and Alibaba allowed microbloggers to make purchases from Taobao. Now “social commerce” is all the rage among platforms that want a new approach to marketing in China.
Douban has recently launched a new channel, Dongxi, that helps its users connect over what “things” they have in common. Users post things the way Pinterest users share favorite photos or works of art, but on Dongxi, invited users can categorize products as “recommend,” “want,” or “own,” making its e-commerce function obvious. Dongxi hopes to extend this capability to all users after a beta stage to ensure quality.
Similarly, Mogujie allows users to post pictures of favorite products. The result is a Pinterest-style collage board, but the products constantly move up or down the website’s waterfall flow based on user ratings. This essentially makes Mogujie, as Clickz described it, “a social network that filters best-selling items on Taobao.” Mogujie generates its revenue from sales commissions, as well as advertisements from both sellers and brands.
Other social media sites have implemented tools that facilitate online purchases. Leading Chinese e-tailer Yihaodian embedded its website into Tianya, a site for blogging and photo sharing, five years ago. That bold, early move resulted in a partnership with Sina.com, with both sites exploring additional social commerce options together. Weibo offers a virtual shopping assistant named Ruyitao. Owned by Alibaba, Ruyitao sends Weibo users alerts regarding discounts at Taobao, Amazon, and 360buy.
So far, Chinese consumers have been more interested than their American counterparts in converting social sharing, comparison, and campaign promotions into actual sales, Clickz said. Brands hope to use social shopping as a gateway into the Chinese market because of the large social media networks already established there and the ease it provides in targeting consumers from very different geographic locations.