The process of retail selling and shopping started a hundred years ago, and it has evolved to the extent that consumers are now able to get their daily essentials by means of the internet and have them delivered to their doorstep the next day. It has evolved alongside technology, grown with what was allocated. As transportation developed, so did the landscape of commerce. As technology afforded convenience, the industry capitalized on it to deliver better services to their customers.
The most evolutionary period debatably emerged in the beginning of 1900s in which the society was accustomed to visiting their local corner stores that were usually small and family-owned with all their goods kept on the shelves behind the counters. Consumers had to tell the storekeepers what they were getting and the employees would select the items, pack them and get the consumers to pay and collect at the counters. At that time, a new retail selling and shopping concept was introduced and goods were moved from behind the counters to “consumer-accessible” shelves from which every consumer could physically pick up the items they wanted and pay for them at the counters.
In mid 1900s, department stores were established as the use of cars had become mainstream and people could buy more items and just leave them in their cars. As the number of cars grew with more people moving to the suburbs, suburban shopping malls were introduced. This was followed by the rise of superstores during 1960 – 1990, the period of which is marked by the use of the internet.
Prior to the 21st century, most retailers only listed their products online with the prices shown with viewers being unable to purchase directly, drop comments, write reviews and interact with other viewers. At the outset of the 1990s with the increasing number of online stores, from which consumers could directly purchase goods, e-commerce began to actually take place as the very first online transactions were made. Ever since, e-commerce has grown drastically, giving consumers more interactive and immersive shopping experience, providing consumers with live chat services and letting them post reviews directly.
While the people now are able to engage in shopping through their smartphones, human interaction is still restricted. Recently, having realized the restriction of e-commerce, one of the major retailers, H&M, has started creating their own e-commence cum social media website that integrates e-commerce into social media. Adidas has also made a similar move by cooperating with a social media application that also does e-commerce. In addition to these retailers, a well-known mobile application that focuses on social media has also started incorporating e-commerce into their application. This “social” commence merges the traditional retail shopping experience with e-commence together, increasing social interaction while reducing efforts needed to purchase products.
Instagram announced a new shopping feature, in March, that will enable users to shop, buy items directly and checkout completely on the application itself, allowing users to shop across Instagram’s feed, business profiles and stories and Explore page. Product posts will look exactly the same and users can like, share, comment and save the posts, and the vendors’ profiles can also be viewed by users. has been removing the line between social media and ecommerce.
H&M, on the other hand, has been testing a web-based social commence website, called itsaspark. It is a combination of Quora and Instagram, facilitating peer-to-peer shopping and styling recommendations in Instagram-like format. People will be able to ask fashion-related questions that will be answered by the assigned content creators with lists of shoppable products. These products will not be limited to H&M only. Offerings by other fashion retailers will also be suggested, such as Miss Selfridge, Asos and J. Crew. Users will be able to view questions by other users and the answers and even comment on questions.
Adidas has been advancing on a similar path. However, instead of creating a website or application, the retailer has decided to team with a social commerce application called Storr that lets people open their stores directly from their phones in just a few clicks. Storr is also a peer-to-peer marketplace and sellers can upload posts featuring products from other brands that can be directly purchased by interested users on the application. Adidas is allowing their Creators Club members too sell Adidas goods themselves. The members who have become social sellers for Adidas will receive 6% commission from sales.
While it’s a good thing that major retailers have been incorporating social media into their e-commerce businesses, there may be other negative implications. Given how convenient it is to like, share, view and comment on products being retailed and the number of people having access to the internet, one single negative comment on a product may be detrimental to the seller’s reputation. However, having anticipated this, certain companies have now started offering services related to product review removal. Sellers are able to remove unfair and negative comments on their products at ease without letting their reputations go down the drain.