Blucarat provides e-commerce sites with a means of offering their customers a social networking experience, with a view to increasing sales conversions.
E-commerce may be pretty convenient, but it definitely lacks the charm and conviviality of going shopping with friends. It is therefore perhaps no surprise that relatively few of the many people who visit an online store actually complete a purchase, most of them preferring to use the Web as a reference point before going to buy at a bricks-and-mortar store. Now New York City startup Blucarat has come up with a social tool that it believes will turn this situation around.
Blucarat’s idea is to give online shopping the social and convivial dimensions which are seriously lacking today. The company will help to customise the interfaces of e-commerce sites by enabling photos drawn from the social networks showing customers wearing or using the products to be posted on the e-commerce site. The whole idea is to encourage social interaction between site visitors, allowing them for instance to connect through from their Facebook account. A customised opt-in ‘Social Bar’ appears at the bottom of the page, which potential buyers can then use to talk about a given item with their Facebook friends or other visitors to the site. This added social element means you can obtain an opinion on a product or service in real time, just as you would if you were out shopping in a bricks and mortar retail outlet.
The Blucarat social tool also has functionality enabling the e-tailer to highlight trending products, those that receive the most comments and stimulate the most activity on the various social networks. The system has been designed in such a way that it can be easily integrated into the interface of any existing commercial website. Interviewed recently by English-language magazine Entrepreneur, Blucarat founder and CEO Tom Kwon pointed out that e-commerce platforms haven’t changed much since the 1990s and are still operating like a ‘card catalogue’ with product offerings transposed to the Internet. This makes online shopping “a solitary experience that doesn’t take into account […] what customers are looking for,” he argues. Kwon’s market research indicates that shoppers are basically searching for three things: “affirmation, information and inspiration” but many Internet users are highly suspicious of the scores and comments posted on e-commerce sites because they are “acutely aware that these posts have been manipulated by the brands,” he believes. The Blucarat social tool may not however be appropriate for any and every kind of retailing platform: evidence suggests it is best suited to the needs of apparel and cosmetics e-commerce sites.