Tweak Your Biz » Marketing » The Future Of E-Commerce – Where Intention Meets Social

The Future Of E-Commerce – Where Intention Meets Social



I read an article just today where it was confirmed that Facebook are currently testing a new feature that – in my opinion – may become as popular and ubiquitous as the ‘Like’ button. This feature is the ‘Want’ button, and is a way for users to announce their desire or interest in a particular product or service within the walls of the social network. The ‘Want’ button should function in the same way as the Like button.

If you ‘want’ a product, you hit the button in much the same way as you hit ‘Like’ to publicly announce your approval or admiration for a particular status update. 

e-commerce models

Intention Economy

For me, this is not just another Facebook feature, but rather represents the fertile shoots of a new phenomenon which I believe is imminent – an ‘Intention Economy’ powered by the depth, reach and consumer-enabling capabilities of Social. This new online economy will be the ‘next big thing’ in e-commerce models, and will focus around harnessing and showcasing the purchase intentions of consumers worldwide.

It will involve the matching of consumer purchase intent with the readiness of sellers to meet it via e-commerce platforms with a strong social focus. On a practical level, consumers will announce what they intend to purchase via various platforms, and sellers will move to accommodate them.

A new brand of social commerce

‘Deal of the day’ websites such as Groupon and LivingSocial have already made inroads into social commerce. The only issue is that they have merely scratched the surface of what is possible, if even that. Indeed, their model is actually the complete reverse of the ‘intention’ model. Instead of allowing consumers to announce their intentions in a targeted, structured and customised way, these models are more attuned to a broadcast media, ‘scattergun’ approach. While Groupon may have been the fastest growing company in history, theirs is a much less effective and far more hit and miss model – and all the evidence points to consumers having become jaded with the irrelevant daily deals email ‘blast’, likening it almost to spam. You may even be reading this and nodding your head in agreement.

What are the benefits of this new Intention Economy?

There are a number of key upsides associated with this new economy for consumers in particular:

Collective buying power

This is the number one consumer advantage. Why purchase something alone, when you can purchase with others to get what you want at a lower price? Group together with others who have stated their intention to purchase the product or service you want. Watch this collective purchasing power entice vendors to make offers with modest reductions, as opposed to the unsustainable discounts outfits like Groupon demand.

Time-saving efficiencies and an improved overall shopping experience

In the new world of the Intention Economy, you do not need to invest huge amounts of time in scanning different websites and performing comparison checks to ensure you are getting the best deal. Simply announce your intention to purchase along with a specified group, name your budget, and sit back and watch as the purchasing power of the group compels sellers to make you an offer that fits your criteria. Job done.

Social proof

If you can see at a glance that others with the same interests as you are looking for the same product or service, this gives you the reassurance that you are making a solid purchasing decision. It also gives you that general reassurance of being part of something bigger – we are social animals after all.

How will we recognise the arrival of the Intention Economy?

Aside from Facebook’s imminent foray into the Intention Economy, there is already some limited evidence of the new paradigm in action. Campaigns such as Dell Swarm have allowed consumers to join together and exert their collective buying power by purchasing big-ticket items in groups. This is a win-win for both buyer and seller. Consumers save, whilst businesses get to make sales in bulk, gain new customers, advocates and repeat custom. They can achieve all this while enhancing their brand image and drawing attention to their product or service offering via the social networks, forums, and community websites where buyers are apt to spread details on the opportunity to purchase together.

The benefits do not stop there. Businesses may also have the opportunity to gain access to a rich source of data on the purchasing intentions of their consumers via the platforms which enable this new brand of social commerce. The most obvious one, as mentioned, is Facebook – but there will inevitably be new platforms and applications outside of the enclosed network which will allow businesses access to this invaluable source of market intelligence.

The real movement towards this new economy, however, may only arrive with the emergence of the future start-ups and entrepreneurs who wish to grasp with both hands the opportunities the Intention Economy provides. It is only a matter of time before we start to awaken to the value of a truly socially-enhanced way of executing our purchasing decisions in transforming the future of e-commerce.

What are your thoughts on this prospective new Intention Economy? Do you see clear benefits for both business and consumer?

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Images:  ”Many wants are outweighed by need on a scale / Shutterstock.com



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The Author:

Anton McCarthy is an ex-Googler, online marketing specialist and entrepreneur who is passionate about helping businesses get more out of their web presence and excel online. Anton has over 8 years experience in online marketing and product management, and has successfully delivered online marketing campaigns for various businesses, in addition to launching a number of online ventures. http://thehobbit2.org

Add Your Comment

  • http://www.bloggertone.com Niall Devitt

    Hi Anton, I like the sounds of the intention economy, and as you say it is has the potential to change how we do business. That said, I can see some dangers – particularly when it comes to the small biz, many who are still struggling to come to terms with social.

  • Elish Bul

    Thank you Anton , Definitely a trend that will also be in tune with the movement towards collaborative behaviour amongst businesses and the Co- Operative trend that has been emerging from Social enterprise and seeping into SME networks

  • Christina Giliberti

    Hi Anton, this certainly is the next logical step for Facebook, but when it comes to what people ‘like’ and what they ‘buy’ there’s a huge gap. I foresee many ‘wanting’ what they cannot afford and only dream about. So how do you separate the actual wants from the unrealistic ones?

    Flip-side for biz, if you could see how many wanted certain goods, you could use that data and merge it with analytics data to formulate insights into high-demand/sale and the opposite.
    You could test to see if a product has market potential (again, danger here if what people like and what they actually buy).

    For users, they would be inundated with products that are similar to what they like, thus filtering out all the things they don’t….the risk is that people’s likes and wants change over time depending on circumstances. This could tie in with milestones – get married, see more household items. Have a baby – see baby items.

    Lots of potential…but which way will they go??

  • http://meetingking.com/ Avi Kaye

    I’m not so sure about this one. I think that the ‘want’ button is more for my FRIENDS than me. They see I *want* the new iPhone, so maybe they will buy it for me.

    Couple this with the birthday reminders Facebook shows you, add some more reminders that Facebook CAN show you (birth of a new baby, wedding anniversary, even ‘1 year going steady’), and I think that this will have a bit more effectiveness than the current Facebook e-commerce which, lets face it, is a bit dead.