The Social E-Commerce Industry & Social Shopping Apps

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Back in 2007, Facebook had 100,000 business pages, this enabled companies to use the popular social medium to attract potential customers.

Since then, the social e-commerce industry has grown ten-fold. It plays a vital role in consumer’s everyday shopping & purchase decisions.

In a survey of 5,500 consumers in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany and Australia, 74 percent of respondents said there was a link between viewing a video on a social platform and making a purchasing decision

Instagram launched its shopping feature in 2017, enabling brands to tag products within their organic posts and create more immersive experiences for consumers.

Types of Social E-Commerce | Onsite vs Offsite


Social Ecommerce Industry
Nike’s Facebook Business Page

Facebook business pages, Instagram business profiles, Pinterest, etc are examples of social media platforms have exclusive features for businesses to list themselves.

Apart from business listing on a social media platform, offsite social e-commerce features can include:

  • Link to business website
  • Quick contact features such as direct ‘Call Now’ button on the page
  •  Live chat support with a business representative using the platform’s chat module
  • Product listings with appropriate links for purchasing
  • Paid promotion features for businesses to send out advertisements & marketing campaigns
  • Analytics & tracking portal for businesses to know the success of their posts or sponsored ads

The above features can vary between the social platforms website & mobile app versions

Instagram Business Profile Social E-Commerce
Instagram Business Profile:

How does offsite social e-commerce help Businesses?

Everything can be tracked & analyzed. So when a visitor lands from a social media post onto a particular business page, an e-commerce marketer would gain valuable insights on the user such as:

  • Active social media engagement via posts VS Sponsored advertisements: Which lead to better traffic & better conversions?
  • Audience demographics insights/sponsored ad: Demographics of users that engaged more with the ad?
  • Better performing content for daily posts
  • UGC campaigns that led to more brand awareness or sales (Click here for UGC ideas)

Not to mention, being listed on social platforms helps brands create a more “friendly” feel when engaging with customers.

How does offsite social e-commerce help Customers?

Customers follow brands on social accounts for a number of reasons. The main few being:

  • Find out about new trends/products styles by brand posts
  • Quick contact features on social accounts to get in touch with brands
  • Being able to Tag or Hashtag brands to get their personal attention
  • Able to take part in fun social media campaign ideas put out by brands to leverage UGC
  • Able to win contests exclusively hosted on social media platforms by brands

85% of millennials use social media, suggesting that their affinity for social platforms is poised to drive further growth in social commerce in the years ahead – Pew Research Center


Social E-Commerce Website
Fancy: Social E-Commerce Website

Back in 2012, The Fancy online store was already making $75,000 a week in sales. This ‘Pintrest+Online Store’ shopping experience disrupted the social media & e-commerce industries, by combining the best features of both, into a single interface.

Like Pinterest, Fancy provides ‘collections’ of fashion products for users to browse through, Like/’Fancy’ products, follow & share with friends etc.

The Fancy store originally kicked off by offering cash rewards or referral points, to users who “Fancy’d” products within the store and shared them with friends. This strategy overall increased the brand’s awareness & user-engagement,

In 2013, Fancy raised a whopping $53Million in funding from investors including American Express Co., billionaire Len Blavatnik, and famous Hollywood actor Will Smith.

But what made Fancy so likeable?

Many people say they do social shopping, but nobody does it as extensively as we do” Joe Einhorn, CEO, Fancy

On-site social e-commerce stores like Fancy, combine the best features of top social media platforms & online shopping stores, with the aim of building a platform that focuses on high user engagement, retention & loyalty.

Some of the key features of Fancy & related apps/websites include:

User Contributions

It’s no surprise that onsite social e-commerce business relies heavily on User Generated Content(UGC) & user contributions. In Fancy, users can use the “bookmarklet” tool in their web browsers, while on the website. Users can use this tool to select a product, describe it, add it to their personal feeds, share it with friends – all while browsing through the various users & stores.

Think of it as an Instagram-like e-commerce  expereience provide to users

A slight gamification element is added by rewarding users for their engagement & recommendations with honorary titles such as “editor” or “art director”


Fancy Website Social Ecommerce Features
Fancy Website Social Features

‘Fancy Box’ Subscriptions

Upon nearing their 2M users mark in 2012, Fancy started a subscription box model of their products. Each box costs around $30 a month, in exchange for $60+ worth of goods from Fancy

Fancy Box Social Ecommerce
Fancy Subscription Box

The social e-commerce aspect of this subscription box is that the box contains goods sourced from your favourite categories & “fancy’d” items, urging users to use engage socially with the application more


Users can view carefully crafted “Recommendations” for gifts by sending a customized description of what they desire & the individual receiving the gift.


As mentioned earlier, Fancy offers rewards for users who refer friends onto the application or even share a referral link for a particular product that the user purchases later.

Social Ecommerce Website
Fancy Referral Dashboard – Cashing Out in Crypto Available

Fancy even created a unique dashboard for users to keep track of all their referral-based earnings

The goal is to evolve the way social commerce operates… reward the users who create value for us by curating favorite items and helping others to discover great new things – Joe Einhorn, CEO, Fancy



A social e-commerce website that focusses on vintage or handmade products by users on the application.


Online events & ticketing service, that lets users plan, set up & promote ticket sales for events and publish them across various social networking channels, directly from the application.


Want, Need, Love – Wanelo, is a social e-commerce platform that learns from the user’s activity. Based on the saved, shared & viewed products, the app will personalise its newsfeed for each user. The app also includes a Tinder-like swipe and match feature to help the personalise user feeds further.


An interesting social e-commerce platform that combines Augmented Reality with the users shopping experience, specifically streamlining the whole ‘Try Before You Buy‘ concept. By capturing the user’s face, users can try out various cosmetics & products in real-time, virtually & share their ‘looks’ with their friends and make more satisfied purchase decisions.

You can read more about the top-selling AR-based app trends here


Whether its onsite or offsite, the social e-commerce business model is being rapidly adopted across existing & new e-commerce brands.

According to a study by Shopify

⅔ of Shopify sales and 85% of all eCommerce orders from social media come from Facebook

If you are still debating to go through the ‘Social E-commerce’ route when building your brand, you need to evaluate your overall business goals.

If these goals include increased traffic, customer engagement, brand equity & authority, social proof,  ultimately resulting in the improvement of stronger customer relations, community & trust – Then investing in social e-commerce might be your route.

According to Statista

Worldwide social commerce revenue is $20 billion

What about onsite social e-commerce? Take Pinduoduo for example

Even as an onsite e-commerce owner, you can make waves & disrupt the traditional e-commerce players. Take China’s Pinduoduo app for example

This social commerce app combines a social shopping strategy with low prices & group discounts that users can avail by inviting their friends from social media channels. Pinduoduo is considered to be one of the fastest growing e-commerce platforms in China.

The president & owner, Colin Huang turned his shopping startup in a $23 Billion dollar empire in just a span of 4 years. Now Pinduoduo threatens to rival even Alibaba, for control over the Chinese e-commerce market.

Using unique means of providing low price discounts to products that are linked with conditions which overall increase the user engagement & userbase using simple and trending means – Seems to do the trick with top onsite & offsite social e-commerce players.

Come up with a unique idea that encompasses this business model, and you may be on your way to be the next big global e-commerce player. If you are looking for a customisable platform to build this idea on, click on the image below

Disclaimer: The Blog has been created with consideration and care. We strive to ensure that all information is as complete, correct, comprehensible, accurate and up-to-date as possible. Despite our continuing efforts, we cannot guarantee that the information made available is complete, correct, accurate or up-to-date.

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