While social networking becomes further integrated into the lives of EVERYONE, rather than just the tech-savvy, developers and retailers have awakened to the idea that there's fun to be had and money to be made in the world of social shopping.
Using tools like Facebook and Twitter, social shopping allows groups of friends or like-minded people to become involved in the shopping experience, recommending products to one another and bookmarking their favorites for the world to see. Here are 10 sites that have made social shopping — or a version of it — their primary focus, each approaching the concept in slightly different ways.
- Svpply: This site allows users to curate wish lists, follow one another, and become online tastemakers. The layout is minimal, and the aesthetic tends towards edgy, innovative products.
- Pinterest: This site describes itself as "a virtual pinboard — a place where you can post collections of things you love, and 'follow' collections created by people with great taste." Users can bookmark products or photos and follow one another's inspiration boards.
- Modcloth: A more traditional retail site, ModCloth nonetheless uses Twitter and Facebook to connect with readers and solicit product reviews. Their "Be the Buyer" program allows users to vote on potential products, and Modcloth stocks or doesn't stock inventory based on real-time shopper feedback.
- The Daily Grommet: Although the content on this eco-shopping site is heavily edited (unlike true social shopping sites) the Daily Grommet's mission involves what they call "Citizen Commerce" — the team asks readers for tips and product recommendations, which get posted in their Citizens' Gallery.
- Wanelo: Wanelo combines the words 'want,' 'need,' and 'love' into one branded website for shoppers who can follow one another and see what's popular. Users of this site lean towards edgy, hipsterish products like suitcase chairs and gramophone iPod docks.
- JustBoughtIt!: Like many other social shopping sites, this one uses Twitter and Facebook to collect favorite products from the community. People snap a photo or grab a screenshot online, then share their purchases and comment on what others are buying. Although most users post fashion finds, there are some home products, which users post from all over the world.
- Storenvy: This site connects independent sellers with buyers — aka the Etsy model — but it's more integrated into social media, allowing users to easily "follow" stores, post finds to Facebook, and tweet their favorites.
- vi.sualize.us: Like Pinterest, this site allows users to bookmark photos they find around the web. An Etsy-ish layout and lots of handmade finds make it more craft-centric than the other sites listed here.
- Polyvore: This site is a monster of social shopping and, although its main focus is fashion, it also has a loyal following of would-be-interior-designers who use the site to mock up inspiration boards filled with home products.
- MyDeco: Originally launched in the UK, MyDeco now has a US site as well. Its primary focus is interior design and home decor, and — like Polyvore — it allows users to mock up virtual rooms that they populate with favorite products.
Photo: Gregory Han | Sonja's Savvy Sophistication Home Office