Fun With Social Shopping
Shopping and the Internet are a perfect marriage. Combine equal parts user curiosity, materialism, need for research, and a dash of social networking, and you have a great recipe for happy users and advertisers. Finding the perfect item, be it the perfect pea coat or the most eco-friendly couch, has never been easier, or a more fun diversion. The following sites are all vying for your attention and shopping prowess with endless options for sharing your finds, which is as it should be.
Stylehive has a wealth of features that can seem a bit overwhelming when you first join up. It seems to have its own language – “hiving”, “bees”, “following”. (A mini-tutorial would definitely help.) Once you learn the lingo, the site is a shopper’s paradise – from the ability to get in on deals exclusive to Stylehive, joining retail and individual communities, the socialization aspect, in which you “follow” the very stylish, fabulous people you admire, and of course, “hiving” things yourself – in other words, browsing and incorporating Stylehive as part of your overall browsing experience. That said, Stylehive will not work unless at the very least, the bookmarklet tool is installed so that you can “hive” the items you like. Overall, Stylehive is a great tool for fashionistas and shopping addicts. The members definitely seem to be a very stylish bunch, who emphasize a nice mix of designer finds and indie appreciation. (Disclosure: Stylehive is a client of eHub founder, Emily Chang, via her company, Ideacodes)
ThisNext is a social shopping network that brands its main feature as “shopcasting” – a combination of the words “shopping” and “broadcasting”. In practice, ThisNext feels like the Yelp of the shopping world. Users are encouraged to recommend products, rate other users’ recommendations as “smart”, “funny”, or “useful”, create various lists and wishlists, and “watch” people shop, via a nice-looking activity map that auto-updates every so often. As with Stylehive, its usefulness is short-lived if you don’t add the bookmarklet so that using the site becomes a regular part of your own browsing experience. There are little fun features, such as adding a “sticker” to emphasize your enthusiasm for the product or the “shopcast” feature, in which you can add items to Myspace, your blog, or profile anywhere on the Internet. Select users are tagged as “Mavens”. As with the Yelp “Elites”, Mavens are users who are the coolest, wittiest and most stylish who use their real names and are given additional goodies such as sneak peeks, exclusive offers and event invitations. You can nominate yourself or others to be Mavens.
Wists is a social shopping bookmarking site that is backed by Gawker Media. It has a very simple, minimalist design with similarly uncomplicated features. As with Stylehive and ThisNext, adding the bookmarklet is essential to getting the most use out of the site, so that you can add items to your “Wist” while you’re browsing other sites. In addition to adding stuff, you can also browse other Wists users’ items, create different widgets for your website, be it Facebook or Livejournal, and see who your “admirers” are – people who have copied items that you’ve posted to their own lists. You can also share items via email, or through a number of social networking sites, including but not limited to Digg, StumbleUpon, and Tailrank. Wists is slightly different from other social shopping websites in that it deliberately tries not to attract advertorial, and encourages its users to find independent designers, makers, and artists.
Kaboodle is still in beta. It is very similar in spirit to ThisNext. As usual, the first order of business is adding the Kaboodle bookmarklet to your browser, to allow you a unobtrusive browsing experience. In addition to the usual acts of adding items to your lists, making wishlists, recommending items to others in your network, and creating badges and slideshows for your blog, Kaboodle has also partnered with Shopping.com to allow its users to more easily comparison-shop. You can also sign up to get exclusive deals and discounts, and Kaboodle features some very fun things, from the style compatibility test to the various polls in which users post on the items they need help deciding on which one to get. You can create and join different Groups, which are not necessarily limited to material items – for example, there’s a group dedicated to the hit TV show “Lost”, in which fans discuss the show and add various Lost-related items.
Stylefeeder is a “personal shopping engine”. Stylefeeder’s genesis begins, as with some many other ingenious websites, with a couple trying to solve a problem. Stylefeeder does not have as many bells and whistles as some of the other shopping websites, but what it does have is a a very simple, easy-to-learn interface, and uncomplicated features. Once you sign up, Stylefeeder asks you to rate some items in order to gain a better sense of your style and taste. You can find out who your “style twins” are, add items to your “stylefeed”, watch other Stylefeeders in action, and add widgets to any number of websites. Stylefeeder is great for shopping addicts who don’t want to be bogged down with feature overload.
Stylemob is currently in beta. While Stylemob is not explicitly a shopping website, its primary features are a perfect complement to sites like Stylehive, Wists and ThisNext. Stylemob is all about one’s own personal look, and using the power of social networking and community to guide one’s creativity, fashion sense, and individualism. Users upload photos of their complete looks, get their looks voted on by the “mob”, and earn “stylepoints” and are entered into a monthly raffle. Stylemob’s look is charmingly old-school street illustrations, a refreshing change from all the slick web 2.0 rounded corners out there. The emphasis is not on consumerism but rather a focus on and celebration of creativity and individuality.
Iliketotallyloveit in beta. It is Digg for shoppers. Users add items they like, and vote on items that other users have submitted. As various items get more exposure, more users will comment or vote on the item. The site has a very cute interface, and offers bookmarklets and fun widgets to add to one’s own blog or website. You can search for items by price, or by category, and on the front page, see items that are “Upcoming”, “Forever Loved”, or “Like, Totally Loved”. This is a fun site for shoppers.
The most important part of any successful social shopping site is its bookmarklet. The bookmarklet, once dragged and dropped to the bookmark toolbar, allows users to browse as they normally would, and once they find something they like enough to add to their shopping site, to easily add it with just the click of a button. This feature allows for seamless browsing and shopping. These social shopping sites help users shop better, and connect with other like-minded shoppers. The best thing about these sites in particular is that they are very straightforward, foster positive communities, and are simple to manage and easy to include as part of your daily routine. It’s the very thing the Internet was made for.
- Neill Kramer on March 06, 2008 at 01:04 PM:
Bunnybot is an attempt to combine instant messaging and shopping. Get instant feedback from the people you trust most – your IM buddies.
- Steve Webb on March 06, 2008 at 04:52 PM:
You forgot http://pronto.com – they’re IAC’s answer to social shopping.
- Mark Krynsky on March 06, 2008 at 11:21 PM:
Emily, great job on the compilation. I do want to mention that there is a site I frequent often that is deserving of being on this list. It’s called Productwiki.com I recommend anyone interested in social shoping to visit it as well.
- Leslie on March 13, 2008 at 05:07 AM:
You need to check out Skimbit (http://www.skimbit.com), a very cool & new social shopping / decision making tool. It lets you skim the best bits of your searches and manage in a way that the others can’t match. I highly recommend checking out Skimbit.