With social shopping, former mallrats turn to mice

In the Searchlight: What social shopping means to CIOs. Plus: Zuckerberg 'likes' developing nations, a scary series of outages and more.

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OMG, online shopping is like, so boring. But it's not as if anyone is about to leave the house to buy their next statement jewelry or designer iPhone accessory. And so comes a new wrinkle in the fabric of customer relationship management -- the rise of social shopping.

Now that it seems we've gotten comfortable shopping online for things we know we want, such as a particular book or music by a favorite artist, we want to be able to browse things we might want. And bounce purchases off our friends. Oh, and see what they bought that we might also want. At least that's what social shopping sites like Wanelo ("Want, need, love" -- get it?) relayed to The New York Times' Jenna Wortham in this week's lead Searchlight item. While shopping, people want to interact with friends in the way to which they've newly grown accustomed -- without them being present.

Social shopping sites vary in their stock, but most include a variety of items often based around a certain -- often crowdsourced -- aesthetic. The point is to encourage "window shopping" that leads to creating wish lists that leads to sharing with friends. Just as Facebook, Twitter and the like generate feeds, so to do many social shopping sites. It's literally a virtual treasure trove of data. But is this really something former mall-goers have been clamoring for? Is it really more fun than trying on Manolos with your BFF? For the rising generation of target consumers, the answer is allegedly yes. They want to shop online but long for that constant feedback that being raised on Facebook provides. As champions of Snapchat, Vine and Instagram, the visuals-heavy sites appeal to them. And at this point, whether they love it because they wanted it or want it because it was suggested they love it doesn't matter, because investors love the idea and are fueling companies like Wanelo (see also: Fab, Kaboodle, ShopStyle, Svpply and many more) with loads of cash.

Check out SearchCIO's own coverage of these topics

So why should you, reader, care? Because this consumer appetite may be true. Or it might all be marketing. (Seriously, people miss wandering malls or schlepping from store to store?) Either way, social shopping is yet another move toward the socialization of everything. In other words, it will find its way into your business, whatever that business may be. And it's a trend that's likely to fall squarely in the CIO's lap at one point or another. You can decide to be the tech enabler hero or the one who comes in to clean up the mess. Speaking of cleaning up messes, it's also another example of why CIOs need to keep cozy with their companies' chief marketing officers (CMOs). (Remember who's allegedly doing all that tech spending in the next five years.)

Now if only there were a way to digitize the heady food court aroma of Orange Julius and Panda Express.

  • Social shopping: It's like what used to be called shopping but without the pesky physical interactions -- and some form of it is probably going to show up in your business soon.
  • Internet.org: charitable mission to bring Internet access to billions of folks in developing nations or a business proposition simply sowing seeds for future information harvesting? With Facebook involved, it's bound to be both.
  • That popping sound you heard earlier in the week was thousands of geeks' heads exploding upon hearing physicists may have solved the graphene conundrum. Start working on your resumes, silicon chips.
  • August is a big month for taking time off, but Google, Amazon and NASDAQ all have outages within a week with little in the way of explanation? Talk about disruption.
  • There are plenty of startups out there, but state that your one and only goal is to kill PowerPoint and you've got this gal's attention.
  • Facial recognition technology is all fun and futuristic for things like replacing credit cards -- then comes the scary stuff.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Karen Goulart, features writer.

This was first published in August 2013

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