Social Shopping Sites: Ho, Ho, Huh?

Well, it’s December and here I am, scrambling to think of good gift ideas for the holidays. Honestly, who has time anymore to go store to store to find that perfect gift? I know some of my friends consider shopping their cardio program, and that’s all good; but I prefer to multi-task. Phone calls, laundry, tv-watching and online shopping in one fell swoop. And judging from the latest stats on Cyber Monday, I am not alone. According to ComScore, Cyber Monday had online sales of $733 million, and over $4 billion was spent online during that week. It isn’t surprising that the big retailers like Amazon, Wal Mart, and Target topped the list as the most visited web sites that day. And, interestingly, more online shoppers made purchases from work computers (45%) than from home (44%). Hmmmm…..

Yes, Amazon can be very resourceful and it regularly features other retailers, too. In fact, in Q3 ’07, almost one-third of product sales from Amazon originated from other merchants. Lately, however, I’ve been looking for something beyond Amazon.

As I perused several sites, trying to get ideas for those hard-to-buy-for family members, I found some of the social shopping sites like ThisNext, StyleHive, Kaboodle helpful, if not a little annoying at times. The annoying part: on Kaboodle, one woman had posted a plea for input on what earrings she should wear for her wedding. She had posted photos of three pairs with descriptions and – WHO CARES?! Who has time to vote on some stranger’s earrings? She needs to get a life, make a decision and move on.

On the other hand, the helpful part of the social shopping sites: when searching for a particular item, there are lists and reviews of lesser-known online retailers and recommended products that I may have never come across on my own. For a smaller online marketer, this is great visibility and a way to swim with the big box retailers. I’m not sure if I will use social shopping sites very often, but for those who are time-crunched and in need of some assistance, they can be a good resource.