The Old Way

Product Detail Page

Product detail pages on ecommerce sites haven’t really changed much in the last ten years.  Born of catalogs, these product pages are long on metadata and ordering information – but typically show the item as a solitary, context-less “SKU”.  It’s like the end of a long walk through the store, arriving at a single product, alone on the shelf.

As brands are better learning how to promote their products on the social web, a new Social Product Context is emerging; allowing for the convergence of products and lifestyle. And creating new opportunities to merchandise products in inventive ways.


Polyvore product context

On Polyvore, the Product View is shown in the context of a collection and that collection to a person. Products are being seen as they relate to each other, to a concept, and to the individual creating the experience.



Pinterest product view

Here is the new Product View on a Pinterest “found” item. The pin/product has a relationship to the board, brand, and individual doing the pinning.  Even though these are individual product shots on Pinterest, the images far outweigh the surrounding data, and the focus is on the social product context.


Facebook Pop-up Shops

Keanon Facebook Pop-up Shop

Facebook pop-up shops like this one from Kaenon, show the product in the context of a celebrity. This kind of curated, celebrity-endorsed merchandising on the social web is becoming more and more popular.


So what does this mean for merchandisers?

Social Commerce is evolving:  
Brands are figuring out how to get their products to participate in social so they can be discovered, bought and shared in more natural (less “invasive”) ways.

More imagery, less catalog: All these channels are highly visual which create new opportunities to richly market and merchandise products. Customers are speaking through images – the language of retail in social & mobile.

Create Rich Product Contexts: These views rely on people curators, influencers, celebrities, etc. to lend social momentum to the products. The “old way” doesn’t take into account the human influence on discover, buy, share.

These are exciting times for marketers and merchandisers who are willing to put their products “out there” into these new social contexts, and let their customers participate with them.