An important aspect of social commerce is sociability in an online environment. With social media, not only can an individual share information of their purchases or interest of buying or purchasing something, but they can interact and engage with other buyers by providing conversations and messages, going on forums, and ratings and recommendations of the products. These acts of sociability are constructs of social commerce. Theses constructs of social commerce are important to the buyer because they help determine their intention to buy the item from that seller and to trust the seller or not.
Ratings and reviews
Buyers can review products online, adding comments of the quality of the product and their experience with it. Users can also rate items using a scale, like on Etsy or Amazon, rating an item from 1-5 stars (1 being the worst to 5 being the best). These reviews can give substantial information about the product and this benefits buyers for potentially buying it or not. This seems effective for other buyers. Describing one’s experience when purchasing a product, whether negative or positive, can determine if this is something a buyer wants based on that experience written.
Recommendations and Referrals
Recommendations and referrals are also part of social commerce constructs. Recommendations are not so much the experience, but whether the buyer would express interest or recommend it to someone that they know, or give recommendations to potential buyers about the item itself. An example would be a recommending a dress: “I would recommend buying this dress for formal occasions, but not to casual events.” Something like that would be a recommendation or referral. It’s expressing the buyer the cons/pros or what to or not to do for the product.
Forums and Communities
The third construct, forums and communities, provides social interaction. Individuals can support each through the provided platforms. These constructs allow other buyers to share their experiences, communicate, ask questions and share information about their purchasing or buying experience. This is a great way to communicate to buyers about sharing information about a specific product. Amazon has message boards for products where buyers can post questions, and other buyers can post their responses, helping the buyer gaining more information on that product.
Trust is a key aspect in social commerce. Because these interactions are online, trust is a high factor of importance when it comes to social commerce. Of course a buyer wants to buy from a seller that is legitimate, credible, professional, quality, customer service, efficiency, and so on. It is best to buy from a seller who has respected credentials, quality products and good customer service. This all comes from having a high reputation. Having trust and a relationship with the seller enhances the purchasing experience online.
Intention to Buy
This is the engagement to buy or purchase items through social networking sites. As described above, these three social constructs and trust play a role of the buyer’s intention to buy. The purpose of social commerce is intentionally to buy an item or shop for a product for whatever the buyer’s reasons, goals, or purposes are. As you can see, the constructs affect the trust of the seller and the trust of the seller affects the intention to buy. These all go hand-in-hand and affect one another. To include, the sociability and communication between the buyers and buyers, and the sellers and buyers, with the advancement of technology and social networking sites, plays a huge role of shopping in an online environment.
References: Hajli, N. (2015). Social commerce constructs and consumer’s intention to buy. International Journal of Information Management, 35(2), 183-191.