Social media is no longer just about being social. With businesses jumping on the SM bandwagon every day, these Internet-based platforms have become important tools for consumers as well. Now that the holiday season is almost here, social media can be a key strategy in the holiday shopper’s gift-buying arsenal.
“Social media doesn’t have to be frivolous or a time-waster,” said Chris Nguyen, CEO of group buying site TeamSave and one of the original entrepreneurs in Ryerson University’s Digital Media Zone (DMZ). “There are smart uses for the tools that are out there and that’s especially true this holiday season. If you really leverage the technology available you can save money, shop smarter and get everything on your holiday shopping list.”
Chris presents the benefits of being a “social” shopper this year:
1. Save money
Chris’ own site, TeamSave.com is one of the most obvious ways to save money during the holidays this year. Described as a social buying site, TeamSave allows users in Toronto, Ottawa, Rochester and Buffalo to take advantage of group buying discounts without having to come up with their own group. Each day a new daily deal is offered and once the required number of people sign up to purchase it, the deal is unlocked and everyone gets the reduced price (up to 90% off). It’s set up to easily give the deal as a gift, and generally allows multiple gift purchases. With social buying sites popping up in every city, it’s a buyers’ market out there, so both gift givers and recipients are winners!
In years past, the Internet has been a great way to save money by comparison shopping, but now there are apps that do the comparison for you at home or in-store. Pic2Shop, Save Benjis+ and PriceGrabber (including gift idea generator) are iPhone apps that turn your phone into a barcode scanner so you can scan any product in-store and see if you can find it cheaper elsewhere (either online or at a local retailer)—although they do have limited functionality in Canada. Stateside there are numerous similar apps, including the popular Red Laser and the recently launched Scandit.
2. Find gifts
Google has done it again with its new app for Android phones: Google Shopper. This app can help you figure out where to buy the gift you’re looking for. It scans media covers, searches by voice, reads information from barcodes and can locate a local retailer as well as online shopping information. Even those without a smartphone can take advantage of Google Product Search, a web-based search engine that reveals where to buy any product, complete with price comparison.
Giftmeister is a free app that generates gift ideas based on the recipient’s personality and desired price range. It also creates shopping lists as well as wishlists, allowing users to interact with their friends’ and family’s wishlists to make sure everyone gets what he or she wants – and that everyone purchases a different gift!
3. Get advice from friends
Everyone appreciates a second opinion, especially when buying for that hard-to-shop-for someone. In addition to simply sharing links from online retailers with friends, there are now more sophisticated ways to solicit advice on gifts. The DMZ’s own real-time photo sharing application, Burstn, is a great example. When out shopping, simply click a pic of whatever product is being considered and it will be instantly shared with personal followers and even posted to Facebook and Twitter accounts. Once it’s in the Burtsn photostream it can be captioned and friends can “Like” and comment on it for instant feedback.
There are also apps out there that combine the idea of barcode scanning with the ability to share and solicit feedback, such as My Shopanion. After scanning, the product is shared with the shopper’s Facebook and Twitter friends to get those second opinions. Scandit offers a similar function in the U.S.
4. Give gifts
With something to fit every personality and occasion, apps themselves make excellent gifts. The iTunes store makes this easy with a “Gift This App” option in the drop down menu beside the “Buy App” option. You can find apps for just about everything from fitness, to gaming, to city navigation, to tools to turn on and off your appliances. You are limited only by your searching ability!
The DMZ’s own entrepreneurs have a number of apps available, including ones for kids:
• Nursery Jam (interactive music app) by Sound SelectA
• Gwen’s Picnic by Bright Bunny Studios
• Road Trip Bingo by Bright Bunny Studios
• Ain’t Bubbies Dreidel (a dreidel you can customize and really spin) by Sound SelectA
• Dub Selector (interactive music app) by Sound SelectA
• Sudoku 3D (soon to be available for Windows 7 phones) by Fersh
5. Give Green, Give Geo-Friendly
It’s easy to make green gift choices with social shopping. Group buying sites are often services and “experience” gifts, so there is no accumulation of material goods, or packaging, etc. The same is true of apps. Charitable gifts are also green gifts and can be purchased online and sometimes through mobile apps. The PayPal app makes it easy to donate to several leading Canadian charities right from a mobile phone. These green gifts are also great for loved ones far away. Group buying sites allow shoppers to buy a local experience gift for a recipient across the country, with the bonus of not having to pay for shipping.