What is Social Shopping?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Social shopping can be described as a mixture of social networking and online shopping. It is said to provide not only a solution for consumers looking for products to buy, but also one for companies looking for ways to get more potential purchasers to their sites and buying their products. This type of shopping involves consumer environments that work in a similar fashion to various social networking sites. People visit a site and communicate with others about products they're buying, thinking of buying, or already own. They learn about prices and deals from other consumers while also sharing their own knowledge and experiences with other shoppers.

Social shopping combines social networking with online shopping.
Social shopping combines social networking with online shopping.

Not all sites handle social shopping in exactly the same way. Some of them focus on allowing site visitors to create personalized shopping lists, which they can then share with others on the Web. Sites may handle this type of setup by providing a platform through which consumers can create, post, and compare product reviews. This can be a big draw for consumers, who often search for consumer reviews before making purchases. They may be less trusting of reviews provided by product manufacturers or store personnel.

Some online shops focus on allowing site visitors to create personalized shopping lists.
Some online shops focus on allowing site visitors to create personalized shopping lists.

Some people define social shopping by comparing it with online shopping. For example, when a consumer shops online, he tends to seek a particular product and may not have a clear idea about other products that might complement it or even completely different products he might be interested in instead of or in addition to the product he logged on to buy; an ordinary online retailer may not list such items together. With this type of shopping, on the other hand, consumers may be able to find reviews, product comparisons, pricing information and other interesting products all in the same place. This may give consumers more of a shopping experience than they get from simply clicking on a purchase link on a website.

Photos are typically a big part of the social shopping experience. These services usually allow consumers to not only create their own customized shopping lists but also post photos of the products they list. They tend to make it easy for customers to get and post images as well. Often, social shopping services provide free, downloadable software that makes getting and posting photos and sharing them a quick and painless process.

Social shopping is not just beneficial for consumers who want to share what they know about goods for sale and browse what others have posted. It may also provide an income source for the social shopping site. For example, these sites may sell advertising to retailers or earn money through pay-per-click programs. They might even provide marketing-related information about their posters and visitors to retailers. Retailers also benefit from the increased exposure to their products; they may find that social shopping sites allow them to serve consumers who may not have found them otherwise.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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Discussion Comments


My kids do all of their shopping online. They have told me to do the same. They say that it is convenient, easy and some things are more affordable. I bought something through a shopping website once but it wasn't very enjoyable. I can't look at what I'm buying, touch it or try it on online. I also can't tell what the size is like and it's a big surprise when it gets home.

I prefer going to the shopping mall personally and look for what I want. There might not be as many choices, but this is what I'm used to. Maybe it's a generational difference. My generation is not very computer savvy, we still like to shop the old fashioned way.


Social shopping is fantastic! I live in a small town where I don't have access to many products so I do a lot of online shopping. The problem with online shopping is that if you get a product that you don't like afterward, it's a long process of returning the product, asking for a refund, and it takes several weeks for sure. Sometimes, I don't bother returning something even though I am never going to use it, just because I don't want to deal with this process.

Social shopping has resolved this problem to a large extent for me. Now I definitely read customer reviews of products before I purchase. For example, there is a site where women share their experiences with skin care products and makeup, review products, give ratings, even answer questions and help each other find the right products for them.

If I want to know more about a skin product for example, I log in to that site and ask the members what they think about it. I describe my skin type, my needs and the kind of product I'm looking for and they direct me to the right product that I'm going to be happy with. I have saved so much time and money by doing this before purchasing anything.

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