Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Is community-based shopping changing the online buying behavior?

What if a giant like Google tells you to buy an LG flat screen TV instead of Samsung? What if your friends on networking sites like Orkut and Myspace advise you on buying a particular product only because they own it? Will the 'Google' tag or your Orkut friends' circle be convincing enough to change your buying behavior? Not really, right?

To change an online consumer's buying behavior, over a period of time, it will need the combined force of the data-crunching ability of Google, coupled with the networking ability of the community portals. Today, community-based shopping is the latest trend in the e-retail industry. The incorporation of user communities has added a 'social' touch to e-shopping. Now, there is a bunch of fellow shoppers, sharing your curiosity and interest, eager to help you in making a good purchase decision.

Its concept depends on the addition of a little bit of social side to our online shopping experience. Once you're on a shopping portal, the confusion in product comparison due to the variety available, can be dealt at a more human level. It also provides a platform for the retailers, industry experts and the common e-shoppers to reach the consumers and place their reviews and opinion on the e-shopping communities respectively.

The word-of-mouth marketing is also a popular way of brand promotion. But, the community-based shopping portals use it in a more structured and easily accessible format for influencing the purchase decision. They help in building a loyal customer base with increased number of repeat customers.

All in all, e-communities are a great asset in the hands of the retail industry in reaching a wide consumer audience and filling up the social void created by the online experience.

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