Let's think about how people shop. It's rare that a consumer stumbles on a new site and buys straight off. What's much more likely is that it takes multiple visits to a site, and possibly multiple touches across channels, before the customer is ready to buy.
Imagine that Mary is looking for a new cocktail dress. She will probably peruse multiple sites for options. She will probably visit her local mall. Maybe, she builds a short list of possibilities, each with their advantages and disadvantages. Most likely, she will discuss it with friends and get their take.
But few e-commerce sites make it easy for Mary to research alternatives, while she is in the process of deciding. Sure, if Mary is shopping only at Macy's, then she can compare Macy's selection easily. But in reality, Mary's choices will likely be much broader than Macy's alone.
This is where social networks like Pinterest become an intuitive part of the purchase process, making it easy for Mary to capture these options and pin them, and in doing so, to share them on Facebook or Twitter. For many, shopping is about deciding between alternatives, usually on different sites. It's an inherently social process of researching and sharing, but e-commerce sites don't recognize this. The big opportunity is to build these capabilities into the shopping process -- to make e-commerce more social.
Today, this is in its infancy. The Facebook Social Graph enables you to build in knowledge about your visitors, their likes, their friendships, and personal information, such as birthdays and email addresses.
You can start by leveraging Facebook Login, which enables consumers to log in to e-commerce sites using their Facebook ID. At the same time, the consumer gives the brand access to profile information about them and access to lists of friends.
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