One positive aspect of online retailing is the use of online social networking as a means for small independent companies or even individuals to sell products that they have made to the people included in their friend’s list. Sites such as Facebook have evolved beyond their original concept of a way for friends to stay in contact with one another to a way in which individuals and small retailers can market and sell their products (Sau-ling, 2011). Most of these transactions usually consist of small deliveries that are made to order and usually paid through Paypal or cash on delivery. So far it has proven to be an effective method for individuals and small companies to reach a large customer base without having to spend thousands of dollars on online advertising campaigns or expensive E-commerce platforms. The cost of establishing such a business online is not capital intensive at all, and in some cases completely free. With this in mind, small retailers or home based businesses make products such as homemade cookies, jams, or other items that can be shipped easily and sell them without having to rely on extensive advertising or marketing campaigns.
On the other end of the spectrum, social media sites have been negatively affected by E-commerce due to how likes or comments have been summarily hijacked to create a false impression of a product being good or effective. What must be understood is that in the case of online retail, studies such as those by Sau-ling (2011) have shown that Facebook “likes” and positive comments on a particular product or service are often used by potential buyers as an indicator as to whether or not a particular product is worth buying or patronizing. They assume that since people have “liked it” and have given a positive comment via their social networking accounts, it may be solid proof that the product or service in question is of good value. However, one of the current trends in online E-commerce has been to hire third-party providers to create fake online social media accounts in an attempt to create a facade of reputability, when in reality the products themselves are incredibly dubious and may not live up to the false impressions created by the fake accounts. Such actions can be considered a negative effect of E-commerce on social media since online social media platforms are in effect “hijacked” to deceive customers.
Another interesting connection between online E-commerce and social media sites has been an increase in the number of “shared” advertisements and promotions. In such cases, it can be seen that online users tend to share advertisements with their friends involving particular products which they believe their friend would be interested in. This is a positive aspect of online social media since it allows companies to advertise their products to a vast audience with very little effort on their part. It should be noted though that such an activity can be considered annoying given the sheer proliferation of advertisements at the present.
Sau-ling, L. (2011). Social Commerce — E-Commerce in Social Media Context. World Academy Of Science, Engineering & Technology, (50), 39-44.