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It was 2010 that the world first really became gripped with social shopping. Online shopping had already begun to become a serious rival to the high street, with voucher codes fueling the rise and then social networking elements kicked in too.

Traditional trade

The internet is often only a reflection of the physical more traditional world and money off vouchers are nothing new – Coca-Cola are known to have used them as far back as the 1880s in an attempt to gain new customers. They thrived for years but coupons were typically limited to 50p off a next purchase or maybe a Buy One, Get One Free offer. The internet changed that, they became easier to get hold of and easier to use. Sites began springing up across the internet harnessing these codes, first via more traditional web forums and then on voucher specific sites. Some businesses like were set-up with vouchers forming the whole base of their business plan.

Bulk discount

Then came the bulk offering versions. Quidco and Piggyback leading the way. Bigger buying power, meant bigger discounts to be offered to the customer. Instead of 50p off, discounts stretched to 10% and more because more people were buying, the social buying phenomena was spreading.  The big success in social shopping has been Groupon leading the way in the collective buying power regime. Even bigger bulk buys, and some sexy marketing buzz via social media has led to many discounts on sites in excess of 70% with those taking the offers actively encouraged to share their bargain news with their friends and followers.

The changing economy may have had an impact too in the popularity of codes, vouchers and discount buying but the social media revolution has been at its heart. The ability to show off, share the love or simply spread a marketing message to a new market has seen social shopping snowball beyond just a bargain-hunters paradise. The modern generation like to share and brands like them sharing too. Buyers re-tweeting their purchase news are unwittingly also acting as unpaid but highly targeted brand marketers, and even highly traditional businesses are beginning to take notice of that.

Where next?

How shopping evolves next is yet to be seen. Some high street retailers have attempted to merge social sharing with traditional browsing but with limited effect. Trend reports suggest that more and more people use high street outlets to touch and feel a product before heading home and searching the web for the same product at a cheaper price and then surfing some more for the best discount code too. Future technology such as 3D printing may have an impact on how customers research products, but it does seem that voucher codes, social shopping and certainly social sharing are here to stay in some form or other.

We’ve long been supporters of voucher code type websites and have recently launched out first Groupon campaigns too and we will continue to support social shopping and other ways of offering top deals on our top products.

What do you think about social shopping? Where do you think it will head next?


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