THE UK is hooked on online shopping. And now, a new spate of websites is helping shopaholics find unique, niche products to quench their thirst.
The capability of the internet to place millions of products at your fingertips, to search for the best price, and to give you access to millions of reviews, has unleashed the bargain hunter in all of us.
I’m addicted, too, so when I was introduced to ‘social shopping’ last year, I was more than enthusiastic to give it a go.
If you’re sick of hearing of the current wave of ‘social websites’, social shopping probably sounds altogether naff. But it’s really not like that at all.
Social shopping communities are purpose-built web environments that are rich with recommendations on things you never knew about or even needed.
It’s a world of discovery for hidden gems – and that’s where social shopping comes into its own.
Over the internet, niche products are much easier to get hold of, yet it’s sometimes still difficult to find exactly the product you’re picturing in your head.
Now, thanks to sites such as ThisNext.com and Kaboodle.com, you have easy access to hundreds of thousands of products that have already been discovered and given the thumbs-up by product connoisseurs.
How else would you learn about transparent toasters, or where to buy a Mix Tape USB drive? Gone are the days of traipsing around town… it’s like having an army of online personal shoppers at your disposal.
Taking it a step further are a handful of websites that provide more than just an environment for sharing, advocacy and discovery – they also provide a means to purchase the products easily, too.
MyDeco.com for instance, is a new home furnishings website that stocks products from over 500 online retailers. Using its room planner you can kit out a room with items in 3D to see what it looks like before buying them and/or sharing your ideas with everyone in the MyDeco community.
Or, if it’s fashion that feeds your shopping addictions, then visit OSOYOU.com, where you can create, shop and share your outfits with thousands of others. The celebrity look is big here.
I expect social shopping to really take off in the UK in 2008.
John Ryder is head of client services at Newcastle-based marketing agency, Silverbean (www.discoversilverbean.com)
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