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Using Twitter for a Fresh Approach to eCommerce

Startup Uses Twitter to Inject a Human Element into Online Shopping

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WebProNews looked at some interesting research from Forrester and Shop.org this week, which indicated that while online retail sales have been increasing, those for the majority of web-only businesses have actually remained flat or on the decline.

One startup launching this week thinks injecting a little human touch into eCommerce can be a way to combat this. Naturally, Twitter is the medium the company’s using to do this.

The company is called IMshopping, and aims to provide an online version of the salespeople who answer your questions in a brick and mortar store like Best Buy or Foot Locker. Basically the concept is that consumers ask IMshopping questions through Twitter about products they are seeking, and IMshopping points them in the right direction.

"Just send any shopping question as an @IMshopping within Twitter (i.e. @IMshopping Where can I find an authentic Larry Bird jersey for under $100? OR @IMshopping Where can I find a LG stainless steel, bottom-freezer refrigerator for under $1000?)," a spokesperson for IMshopping tells WebProNews.

IMshopping on Twitter

The site is launching with human guides answering questions and over time the company will roll out programs for general consumers to earn value from assisting on searches and getting rated for the quality of their answers. "We can’t comment more on this program right now but it will be a game-changer in terms of community incentives," the spokesperson says. 

I am reminded of ChaCha, but this is strictly for shopping, and has the potential for gaining a larger following, simply because of the Twitter factor. IMshopping does have a web site that can be used just the same, but with the right marketing, I can see avid Twitter users going this route simply for the convenience factor.

Yes, consumers could simply search for what they’re looking for on Google or another search engine, but we’ve seen examples in the past of businesses using Twitter to help users find what they were looking for, and with this as a primary goal of IMshopping, there could be a place for it.

Prashant Nedungadi - CEO of IMshopping
Prashant Nedungadi – CEO of IMshopping

"We believe human assistance will create a deeper level of e-commerce satisfaction that doesn’t exist on the Internet today," says IMshopping CEO and Founder Prashant Nedungadi.  "There is a lot of information out there, but very little help when online shoppers need specific answers that will make or break their purchasing decision. At brick and mortar stores, human experts fill such a void, but on the web, it doesn’t exist. We developed IMshopping to bring the same level of personalized assistance to online shoppers."

"Twitter is the ideal medium for having a conversation; Online shoppers have the option to communicate privately with the expert on Twitter, or publicly so others can benefit from the right choices,"  he adds.

Is the service going to change the face of the web? Probably not, but it’s an interesting look into how Twitter can be implemented directly into a business model. IMshopping has secured a $4.7m round of funding from South Korea Telecom Ventures.

As a business model, IMShopping collects revenue when consumers buy products that are recommended through the site.  The spokesperson tells me that he company is staying quiet on future business plans but Prashant’s background (he founded Andale, which is now Vendio) seems to suggest there may be bigger B2B plays as well.

Using Twitter for a Fresh Approach to eCommerce
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  • http://asmarketing.wordpress.com Top Keyword Search

    Customer Service and Reputation Management taken to the limit, Great job, and very innovative. Most businesses are trying to tie twitter to their businesses, and this is a great case study.

  • http://twitter.com/markmayhew mark

    I think @ChaCha gave up, I’m not sure though

  • http://www.papyrusfromegypt.,com Egyptian Art

    Thanks chris we should give a try soon

  • http://desene-animate.pentrucopii.org desene

    One of the great marketing motivators is the concept of exclusivity. That’s why we all so often fall into the trap of the endless beta product. If only a handful of people have access, it must be worth more, right? Posting messages on Twitter about upcoming merchandise you’re planning (or even going as far as to let them influence product design) gives users this sense of exclusivity without all the obligation of actually turning it into a real product. Say for example that you’re at the water cooler with a product designer and come up with an interesting idea.

  • http://ripsychotherapy.com Mike A.

    Hmmm. Interesting concept. But many of the online help functions that I’ve used are frustrating because the “human guide” is working w/ several clients at the same time. The lag time between asking a question and getting the answer often leaves me frustrated and I surf away.

  • http://poseidonprofit.blogspot.com Poseidon SEO, SEM, SMO

    Social media advertising on demand recent days.

  • http://www.tarotreadingsite.com Chanel

    I understand the logic behind mixing e-commerce and social networking. What I question is how professional it really is. Watching some of the online businesses’ attempt at social networking actually turns me off of their product / service.

    Does it really benefit us to spend endless hours texting one liners on twitter? Recently, I grabbed my stake in twitter time and haven’t found it that beneficial and honestly, I’m too busy running my business to find the time to think up things to talk about.

    What happened to the idea of professionalism and good family values? by the way.. I’m in my 30s, and don’t believe this is too radical of an idea! :D

  • http://wealthyaffiliatemember.com Wealthy Affiliate Member

    He is using affiliate marketing to make commissions, this type of marketing is unknown to most people but he gets paid just for people clicking his recommended links. He is also ‘cookie dropping’ which means for example… U click on his best buy lnk and he jus dropped a tracking cookie so he gets credit for up to 5 years on things u purchase through best buy, even if u never click his link again. If u want to learn more check out: http://WealthyAffiliateMember.com

  • http://www.melbourneonline.com.au/ecommerce-online-stores.asp Mark – Melbourne eCommerce

    I think we’re all reading this with an element of questioning about the viability of spending this much time and money on such an unproven concept.
    But someone has to do it.

    I for one will be watching very closely to see how it works or doesn’t work.

    I wonder how long it will take before they get sick of waiting for incoming queries and move to a telemarketing style Twitter campaign.

  • http://www.quart-soft.com CoolDiamond

    Thanks for sharing this. I think I should try this method.

  • olivia

    Quite a good site. Idea behind this is quite interesting,one can get answers to their questions about the product.Therefore, if you want to purchase any product and you are not totally convinced about it, you can ask all your questions and a highly qualified team of professionals will give you the answers you need.

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