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Social Commerce Timeline

Social commerce is a new aspect of commerce, which is symbolized by social media and is covering both online and offline environments. Even though social commerce has quickly evolved as a new system of commercializing the economy, it has got only a little attention from the researchers in the Information Systems (IS) discipline. The presence of social commerce aspects in businesses and the lives of people, presents with a newly evolving field of knowledge, which can be of great significance and utility for everyone.

It is becoming more and more essential to study social commerce as a new specific subject providing wings to the commercial interests of everyone in the global market. This report aims at explaining the features of social commerce as a new field of commercialization and the future potentials underlying this field. It describes the evolutionary trends and growth of social commerce as a new commercial branch starting from 2005 up to 2011.

Ever since the term social commerce has been defined in 2005, the perception and understanding of people about the term has changed from mere human social nature to a new field of study of emerging commercial trends by socializing with each other. Even social commerce has gradually evolved as a new subject, which had started from social networks and social communities.

Today, the concept is widely in use through mediums like blogs, social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus and e-mail facility, which provides great productive opportunities for the people. It is the producers or the marketing medium, which mostly generates the information related to the social commerce opportunities, which then gets widespread through the means of peers, groups and communities by which the word gets spread further up to the global audience.

  • Introduction

    Looking to the popularity and success of social networking platforms and other social media, the term social commerce was first defined in the year 2005, representing a new and evolving commercial trend (Beisel 2006; Rubel 2005; Stephen and Toubia 2010). For our simple understanding, we can define social commerce as a new aspect of commerce, which is symbolized by social media and is covering both online and offline environments.

    Social commerce is a process of doing commercial activities by taking the help of social media for social interactions to do the buying and selling of products, services and ideas online and offline. The social media helps in availing the public opinions and references about the products, services and ideas which boosts the commercial activities on the social front due to which the subject is also regarded as a new category of e-commerce or the birth of a “referral economy” (Harkin 2007).

    Somehow, there has been a very little research about social commerce as a phenomenon. Until now, people have only studied the aspects of social commerce as a new branch of study. Due to that, there are very less publications available on the study of social commerce, most of which are held as discussions between people on blog posts, trade articles, industry reports or publications by practitioners.

    Although the fact remains that the required proper research in social commerce can provide new dimensions of not only the theoretical understanding of the phenomenon but also its implications and utility while in practice in practical.

    Now, this report will give the explanation about the social commerce model. This report mainly provides the basic information about the beginning of social commerce. It particularly explains the process of evolution of social commerce and its innate characteristics. It describes the timeline of social commerce evolution year by year since 2005.

    Now, let us have a look at the explanation of the social commerce model, which is based on the 7 P’s of social commerce. The 7 P’s of social commerce are the vital factors of the model around which the entire social commerce cycle revolves.

  • The Social Commerce Model

    The social commerce model described in the figure is defined by, which is world’s first B2B social commerce web portal. The social commerce model of, shows the product life cycle in the online transaction of any product. It shows the entire process right from the manufacturing of the product up to the end customer feedback & further requirements from the customers. The model also shows the perfect way of how can fulfill its objective of create-share-grow and how the clients and customers can benefit from it.

    Let us understand the model in a simple way by the following illustration:

    When people (as an individual, a partnership or a company) create or produce a product (or products), they are interested to sell it in different market (place/s). To sell the product/service, the producer/s may need to promote the product/service. To promote the product/service, the producer may need to partner with any other source, so that he/she can do the best possible promotion of the product/service.

    Again, the people interested in selling the product/service can partner with the producer and his/her source in order do the promotion of the product/service in his/her marketplace. The promotion can be done at regional level or online where people can express their views about the product/service and a collective public opinion can be gathered.

    Based on the product/service, it’s promotion and the public opinion, which is shared online through the social media, people who want to buy the product or service can enter a deal with the producer of the product/service. When the transaction of purchase and sale of the product is over, the producer gets productivity in the form of money as a return for his/her product/service and the customer gets the productivity in the form of the finished product/service which he/she has bought from the producer of the product/service.

    This way the entire product life cycle ends up giving productivity to all; the producer, who has produced the product/service, the source ( & its channel partner/s), who play an important role in the promotion of the product/service and the customer, who buys the product/service. Likewise, with the implementation of, world’s first B2B social commerce web portal, it will be possible to complete the entire product life cycle successfully in the most efficient way.

    Now, let us understand each aspect of the model in detail:

    1. People:

    ‘People’ is the first factor, which comes into existence in the social commerce model. The product life cycle, which is depicted in the social commerce model, starts with a person or people (a partnership or a company) as the producers/manufacturers of a product/service. ‘People’ as producers/manufacturers of the product/service are associated and remain associated with all the factors in the product life cycle shown in the social commerce model until the final stage of productivity.

    They produce the product, partner with a trusted source for the promotion of the product in the required market place, share the public opinion about their product and in the end, sell the product getting productivity in the form of money out of it. This way, ‘people’ is one of the most important factors in the social commerce model.

    2. Product:

    ‘Product’ is the most important factor associated with the product life cycle depicted in the social commerce model. It is on the factor of product/service that the entire product life cycle is running systematically. After being produced up to the final stage, the product then gets promoted using the different social media tools and is kept for public appraisal and sale.

    The customers who may buy the product, then may give a positive or negative opinion in the form of feedback about the product on the social media itself. Thus, it becomes highly necessary for the producers to produce quality products/services for their positive promotion, sale and feedback in the social commerce system.

    3. Partner:

    The reach of the producer/manufacturer of the product/service is limited up to a limited number of people. Thus, every producer is not able to do the marketing and promotion of his/her product/service on his/her own. Even they need to take the help of a source or a third party to do the effective marketing and promotion of their product/service. For this purpose, the producer/manufacturer must partner with a third-party source which can help them to do the required marketing of his/her product/service.

    The ‘partner’ third party source is very important in the chain cycle of the product as without them the product campaign remains incomplete in the product life cycle. The partner third party source can be a marketing associate or firm which will provide take all the necessary steps to do the effective marketing and promotion of the product/ service of the producer/manufacturer. For this purpose, the marketing firm may take further help of other channel partners who may assist in the process of product marketing and promotion.

    4. Promotion:

    Promotion is a very important factor in the product life cycle. The whole social commerce model is based on the core concept of product promotion. Promotion plays a very important role in the sale of the product up to the end customer. According to the social commerce model, the need is to do the effective, professional and customer friendly promotion of the product to ensure the value of the product to the customer.

    The scope of the sale of the product will depend upon the type of promotion by the marketing firm. Given the product quality is up to the mark, the promotion of the product is done in an effective way and there is a positive feedback about the product as per the public opinion of the reviewer audience, it is very much likely that the potential customer will eventually buy the product.

    5. Place:

    ‘Place’ in the social commerce model means the practical place of product promotion as well as the virtual place of online product promotion. The existence of B2B social commerce web portal gives wings to a wide array of scope to promote the product virtually almost everywhere. But the product promotion remains incomplete until it is not promoted in practical at different physical locations.

    It can be promoted at different places by appointed marketing executives or channel partners at different locations. They can further promote the product at their respective locations by doing the practical marketing and promotion of the product as well as making people aware about the virtual presence of the product on the internet.

    6. Public Opinion:

    Public Opinion is a very critical factor in the product life cycle shown in the social commerce model. Public opinion matters the most in the eye of any potential customer. Firstly, it is when the product is promoted either practically or online that it must meet the public opinion for the first time. If the public opinion about the product is positive, then it will attract potential customers of the product to buy the product and if it is negative then it will move the potential customers away from the product.

    Secondly, it is when a potential customer of the product buys the product on getting a positive public opinion about the product that he gets converted from a potential customer of the product into a buyer of the product. Then, it is his/her opinion and the opinion of other buyers like him/her which becomes the collective public opinion as the buyer’s opinion about the product. A positive buyer’s opinion or feedback about the product will obviously attract further potential customers to buy the product and a negative one will move the potential customers away from product. Thus, it is highly necessary that the product generates a positive public opinion to enhance the sales possibilities in the market.

    7. Productivity:

    Productivity is the factor governing the entire product life cycle. A producer gets productivity in the social commerce model in the end, when he/she gets the return for the product in the form of payment in terms of money. Thus, money, as we all know, the governing factor in the economy around the world, rules even the social commerce model. On the other hand, the buyers of the product get productivity in return of the exchange of money in the form of the product, which they buy from the producers.

    The entire process of the product life cycle shown in the social commerce model ends for once when the producer and potential customer enter the product transaction in the end. After that, it may start again if the producer wants to sell the same product or a different product in the market again to gain the productivity out of it in the form of money in return.

    The above explanation gives a detailed understanding of the 7 P’s of the social commerce model. Each factor is important and related with all the other factors of the model. The social commerce model, overall, provides an effective way of selling the products in the market giving productivity to all the 3 human factors associated with it, namely, the producer, the partner and the customer.

  • Social Commerce Timeline

    This section shows the timeline of social commerce, which includes the historical events and critical turning points of social commerce as described in trade articles and web postings.

    1. Social commerce in 2005:

    The term “social commerce” is first introduced on Yahoo! in 2005 (Rubel 2005). Yahoo!’s Shoposphere, which was launched on November 11, 2005, is the earliest attempt to plunge into social commerce (Rothberg 2005). The “Pick Lists” feature shown in the website allows users to review products lists and comment on it. This becomes the first platform where users can comment publicly on the products lists. This user-generated content turns Shoposhere into a blogosphere.

    There are many forecasts made about social commerce at that time. People show tendency to rely more on the peer generated content rather than marketer generated content as their source of information about the market. It generates mainly two reviews about the social commerce phenomenon, which are,

    • to shift the focus of the advertisements from attracting customers to giving them advice, which would allow shoppers to discover products based on lists provided by other shoppers, and
    • social commerce should move the strategy of e-commerce marketing from attracting customers to finding niche products which the customer would like to buy from the market.

    This strategy would provide the small businesses with a way to directly manufacture the exact products required by the customers. This would allow them to earn from their products without spending much for the advertisement costs.

    Technically, social commerce is termed as an e-commerce medium which is making use of the user generated features like that of the blogs (Rothberg 2005) or partnering with blog platforms (Rubel 2005). Overall, the description about social commerce in 2005 looks at the benefits, which bloggers and small businesses can derive by effectively using the social commerce platform. On the other hand, it gave rise to the new way of peer generated content with the emergence of Web 2.0 technologies.

    2. Social commerce in 2006:

    The consumer needs are researched in 2006 and according to it several generalizations are made. A general realization about the people as customers is made that they are not goal-oriented and they are not having clear thoughts about what to purchase and from where to purchase it.

    According to this realization, it is assumed that people as shoppers get better perspective about the shopping from the thoughts and ideas shared by the peer shoppers (Tedeschi 2006). Another assumption is made that the shoppers would like to shop with other shoppers and to invest their time collectively to get better shopping ideas in their minds (Beisel 2006).

    These assumptions about the customers are made according to the management criterion. The businesses, instead on focusing on transactions, decide to provide ample room and space to the potential customers to discuss their thoughts and ideas about shopping and have a new type of collaborative shopping experience all together.

    Suggestions are made to web giant retailers like eBay, Amazon, Gateway and Wal-Mart to partner with social networking sites (O’Malley 2006) or to introduce social tools in their web platforms. Suggestions of business strategies for transforming from small businesses to larger ones start growing.

    Some social shopping sites start to develop like This. Next, Kaboodle, Wists, StyleHive, Crowdstorm, whereas other endeavors struggle in the competition like myPickList, StyleFeeder, Slister, and ClipClip. The general trend of these sites becomes to include social networking features in shopping dimensions and to explore other practical business models.

    Also, it is considered difficult to develop suitable business models for small startups. At the same time, Facebook and MySpace emerge as the growing and successful social networking sites due to the massive traffic they attract. Even then, it is challenging to develop a way to connect them with other e-commerce sites (O’Malley 2006). On the other hand, social shopping sites provide the facility to research as well as shop as one whole experience to the potential customers.

    However, some people use “social shopping” and “social commerce” as synonyms to each other (Tedeschi 2006b). Other like Beisel (2006) differentiate between the two defining social commerce as creation of a place for people to collaborate online, get advice from trusted people, and find goods and services and then purchase them. Whereas, he defines, social shopping as the act of sharing the shopping experience with others. Thus, in reality, the two terms are different from each other, wherein social shopping is a subset of social commerce and thus it has a narrower scope than social commerce.

    3. Social commerce in 2007:

    Social shopping sites began to grow increasingly in 2007, which initiated further attempts to understand customer behavior and design new business models and strategies systematically. There are two different generalization about social shoppers which are being discussed at this time. The first one says that consumers are rational people interested in knowing the opinions of their friends or like-minded people about their thinking, purchase or recommendations for social shopping (McCarthy 2007).

    Thus, recommendation would work a great deal on building the trust of consumers on the respective products or at least letting them recommend those products to others (Gordon 2007). This way, the concept of social networking started to become more related to the peer commendations, building trust and establishing credibility. Due to this, social shoppers started to be taken as rational behavioral people who would follow their rationale and shop based on their cognitive thinking.

    On the other hand, another generalization made about the social shoppers is that they are not rational people and they are driven by the emotional connection of their related people and thus it drives them to make unplanned purchases based on others’ recommendations (Voight 2007).

    While the trend before 2006 was for the e-commerce sites to tap into social networking sites, it changes from 2007 into social networking sites to tap into social shopping functions. The evidence of this thing is shown by the fact that in 2007 the famous social networking site Facebook adds shopping services to its menu to let its members know about what other members in the network shopped for (Creamer 2007). Then, gradually people show their interest in social commerce, begin to question, and explore more about the business values of social commerce (Creamer 2007). As against the traditional trend of generating business value from advertisements, in 2007, a new understanding is developed to generate business value from different sources related to social commerce.

    Another issue faced at this point is how to combine the online and offline social networks to show the combined effect of social commerce behaviors of the customers (Creamer 2007). While focusing only on the online social networks and ignoring the offline social network is considered as a limitation of social commerce (Creamer 2007). At the same time, team-buying (or tuangou) becomes popular in China which is a form of social shopping also known as “crowdsumption”, which has the aim of creating a group of customers which could then bargain effectively with the merchants (Harkin 2007).

    On the technological front, social commerce site is more advanced than search engines. The limitations with search engines are that they cannot give the information about someone’s shopping to anyone and they also enlist small businesses with limited budgets on the top of the search results. (McCarthy 2007). Social commerce combines the utility of search engines as well as the social networking sites and thus ranks as a more powerful tool in comparison to them. (McCarthy 2007).

    The number of social shopping sites grows considerably in 2007. At the same time, there is growth of other IT platforms like blogs, social networking sites (like MySpace, Second Life) and sites based on user generated content (YouTube). These sites gain considerable popularity and there is a significant increase in the diversities of these sites. Branded social networking sites and communities convey the concept that shoppers can bookmark or blog about the products of their choice (Corcoran 2007).

    The information shared on text basis on social commerce sites, started to appear in audio and video form (YouTube). Classification of social shopping sites based on different functions appears in 2007. For example, Bustos (2007) classifies social shopping into social shopping bookmarking sites (or social wish lists), social deals and coupons sites, and social comparison engines.

    Further, two new issues related to information arise in 2007. The first is to track the successful social commerce sites and the ones which cause aggravation to the users (Bustos 2007). The second one is about developing a useful content strategy related to social shopping site (Corcoran 2007). Beyond the details of social commerce, a basic classification of practices in social commerce is developed.

    4. Social Commerce in 2008:

    In the year 2008, the year theoretical concepts and principles about social commerce gets transformed into practical business practices. These practices have a great influence on different sectors of industries spanning from fashion (e.g. Stylehive) to furniture (e.g. ShopStyle). There is a good momentum seen in social bookmarking sites and coupon sharing sites. Along with the emergence of social commerce business practices, there arises solid new strategies and practical challenges.

    On the social front, where it is expected on part of the people to contribute in creating healthy business values, instead it is realized that people are not always responsive to marketers’ messages and they do not react in the ways which the marketers would like (Clawson 2008). As regard with the massive number of users on the social networks, the traffic generated on social shopping platforms is too small to create massive business values or revolutionize business (Clawson 2008).

    Based on this, it is speculated that social networks are useful in terms of marketing and branding but not for making money or generating more business transactions. This arises a belief that shopping applications on Facebook is only a minor add-on, which contributes marginally in generating business profits.

    As regard with shopping recommendations which was the highlighted business strategy until previous years, bargain findings become the new highlighted business strategy in 2008 (Kooser 2008). According to this strategy, it is possible to connect the shoppers with the core products.

    It is noteworthy that all these business strategies are like that of e-commerce and are used by social commerce to connect shopper with each other or with products. This implies that social commerce now is not a new subject or revolution but the further evolution of e-commerce. Even then, the difference between e-commerce and social commerce is apparent by the fact that e-commerce focuses on maximizing business efficiency by strategies for sophisticated searches, one-click purchasing and auto-generated recommendations based on the past shopping of the user where as social commerce concentrates on social sharing and networking rather than business efficiency and direct purchases as primary objectives (Carroll 2008).

    The further difference between e-commerce and social commerce is represented according to the gender. Social shopping which is more fun oriented is considered as female-oriented whereas e-commerce which result oriented is considered as male-oriented (Carroll 2008).

    This gender perspective is similar with a later report on social networking which showed that “social networks reach a higher percentage of women than men globally, with 75.8% of all women online visiting a social network in May 2010 versus 69.7% of men. Women spend 30% more time on SNS than men” (comScore 2010).

    New social shopping websites along with social networking site having commerce functionalities continue to rise as a part of the trend on the internet. New startups continue to analyze and use the user generated content on social shopping sites. On the information dimension, social shopping site content is “crowdsourced” to the communities of users (Gaulin 2008). “Crowdsourcing” as a concept begins to include not only the general users of the social shopping sites but it also begins to include groups and communities as a part of it.

    5. Social Commerce in 2009:

    2009 sees social commerce expand its horizons to include new technical platforms and business practices (e.g. Twitter, mobile phones, combining online with offline shopping activities, etc.). Now, more attention is given in order try to understand the customer better.

    It is believed that the customers are well accustomed with themselves in knowing their interest and be responsible for their online activities, which reduces the job of marketers in shaping the interests of the customers (Hoffman 2009). For e.g. Users can get the information about the products from their own social networks rather than from the marketers. Now, new challenges related to customers are identified like how to interact with the customers and find potential customers from the online communities (Gray 2009; Hoffman 2009).

    Social commerce is explained better with the help of social psychology. Six heuristics based on which social shoppers made intuitive decisions are identified: social proof (i.e., follow the crowd), authority (i.e., follow the authority), scarcity (i.e., scarce stuff is good stuff), liking (i.e., follow those you like), consistency (i.e., be consistent to past beliefs and behavior), and reciprocity (i.e., repay favors) (Marsden 2009b).

    These six heuristics provide a framework for six social commerce strategies: the social proof strategy, the authority strategy, the scarcity strategy, the liking strategy, the consistency strategy, and the reciprocity strategy (Marsden 2009b). After that, the understanding of the concept of social commerce has moved from descriptive level to conceptual and explanatory levels.

    The ongoing debates continue social commerce and whether it should work or not. A new definition appears on social commerce which highlights the six aspects about it: social shopping, ratings and reviews, recommendations, forums and communities, social media optimization, and social ads and applications (Marsden 2009a).

    According to this definition, social shopping is different from social commerce, and is considered as one of the multiple aspects of social commerce. Further, this definition suggests that social commerce and e-commerce have similarity in many aspects (i.e. rating and reviews, recommendations, and forums and communities). The similarities suggest that social commerce is not a revolution different is essence from e-commerce, but it is a new evolution which has been built on the practices of e-commerce.

    The earlier suggestions of 2006 to establish a social presence in e-commerce sites and social networking sites are actualized now as business practices. The first e-commerce store is launched on Facebook in August 2009. As Facebook implements e-commerce in its newsfeed application, social commerce is given new meaning with the phrase “newsfeed purchasing” (Klaassen 2009).

    In addition of having social presence in social networking sites, businesses create their own communities to allow their customers to have social spaces to discuss about their products (Hoffman 2009). This way, the co-creating activity in social networking sites boosts the aspect of social commerce. It is a means for the businesses to generate customer oriented advertisements through company owned communities but even then, this is not the best business practice or there aren’t any established business models of this type (Hoffman 2009, p.3).

    There is a significant increase in the scope of IT platforms as they increase beyond Facebook and expand their reach by other mediums like Twitter and mobile phones (Gray 2009; Hwang 2009). Mobile phones are considered especially useful for the growth of social commerce in future (Smith 2009). Social commerce further expands its reach up to the management and technical aspects of the field.

    First, it means a combination of online channels (i.e., online marketing) and offline channels (i.e., in-store activities) through social media (Smith 2009). Based on this idea, social shopping derives a new meaning of doing “high street” (online) shopping while sharing shopping ideas with friends through social media (like mobile phones).

    Secondly, multichannel means using different social platforms to complete social shopping activity. For e.g. one brand can use two different social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to promote its product or event. Smith (2009) states that, “so while Facebook works as a great driver before an event, Twitter is an effective real-time tool to engage people as the event is happening” (p.19). There is a convergence seen in social commerce in 2009, as it moves forward to integrate online and offline social networks and other social media.

    Based on the information side, there is the convergent content strategy converging content across different social networks in various social media.

    6. Social Commerce in 2010:

    Social commerce is considered as a global phenomenon in 2010, despite the fact that all countries or regions do not possess the same level of development in conceptualization and practice of social commerce. In some countries, still the discussion about social commerce is ongoing and it is remaining to be decided whether social commerce will work for them or not. Despite that, the push up in social commerce in many other countries gives boost to social commerce to rise to new level.

    Social commerce tries to help the people by getting beyond the need of people of having fun in networking and is trying solve their economic concerns. It combines the need of social fun as well as social savings. For e.g. In Japan, there is a trend for “Mainichi Tokubai” (“everyday deal”) which is dealt with by price-sensitive consumers (Marsden 2010b). It taps into meetings the needs of the economic people of Japan and provide them with price-effective deals. In China, Tuangou provides an effective online platform through chatrooms aiming to “fuse online collaboration with high street retail” (Marsden 2010c).

    This specific Chinese type team bargaining platform lets shoppers organize themselves and bargain with high street retailers and get discounts on the brands on their choice. The main intention of this type of group buying facilities is to get unknown discounts by negotiation and is different from pre-defined deals or group coupons practices, which was prevalent in western countries like US and Canada.

    Some people consider this Chinese style of group discount to be more interesting (Marsden 2010c), and suggest ways to integrate it with western style of team buying to increase social enjoyment and adventure in social savings. However, the business model of Groupon for the daily deals for its customers gains more and more popularity worldwide. For e.g. Groupon Japan and Groupon Taiwan, which feature coupons on local businesses and services, make their debut in August and December 2010 respectively.

    It is noteworthy, that social commerce in Asia, like in Japan and China until now, is not driven by fun but economic concerns like deal-oriented social savings trends. While in western countries, it drives both savings and fun for the consumers who are being driven by motivational forces. Here the focus of social commerce moves firstly into the utility aspect of social commerce and secondly into the fun criteria which is associated with social commerce in the process of social savings.

    Based on the cultural aspect, social commerce has different functionalities as regard with the utility, economic and recreational point of view at different stages and different levels of its development worldwide. Therefore, social commerce is still considered as an evolving and emerging phenomenon which will grow with time and needs further better understanding.

    The concept of Tuangou becomes popular and expands from the trend of single-setting online group buying in 2007 (i.e. from one online retailer) to multi-channel multi-setting group buying in 2010 (i.e. combine online and offline retailers, media or social networks). Groupon, the group buying site, which was launched in November 2008, becomes extremely popular in 2010 and serves more than 40 markets as of December 2010, Google attempts to buy Groupon with an offer of USD 5.3 billion in late 2010 (PTI 2010). At the same time, one new business practice in social commerce like a social version of PayPal emerges in the form of social currency (Marsden 2010f). The new practice extends the scope of social commerce from a branding orientation to a transaction orientation.

    The understanding about the customers and related business strategies are coordinated with the IT platforms. Facebook launches its first group-buying application (i.e., Wildfire) (Marsden 2010a). The online battle on getting more group buying customers is expected to start between Facebook (the largest social networking site) and Groupon (the largest collective buying website). Facebook emerges in a new way and is expected to become the de facto social commerce platform (Marsden 2010e).

    Despite the opinion of 2008 that social commerce is good only for branding purpose and not for money making, Facebook starts making money. Thus, a new term f-commerce (Facebook e-commerce) is framed (Crum 2010). The IT platforms which support the social commerce field increase further from sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter to including applications for smart phones (such an iPhone and Android). The new application named iGroup is released for iPhone users, which allows sharing information with the online contacts (i.e. social network) who are in the specific location (i.e., retailing stores) (PatentlyApple 2010).

    Combining the virtual (online) and practical (offline) platforms by the way of boundless technological support is one of the themes in 2010. For example, FastMall, an iPhone application, is created to answer the need for a convergence, “a way to meld the physical and virtual shopping experiences without obstacles.” (Feuer 2010, p.95) The aim of this is to draw customers back to the store and turn casual shoppers into loyal brand champions (Feuer 2010).

    In the online world, now as social commerce turns into a global trend, the content about it now can be shared with global customers at the same time remaining localized with the respective cultures of different nations, communities or groups.