Can social networks help e-commerce take off?

A new crop of fashion retailers hope that social networking will urge online shoppers to make better (and more) purchases.

Are you more likely to buy something if your friend recommended it? What if they came along for the trip?

Probably, right?

That's what fashion retailers are hoping as they expand their online offerings, hoping that a curious mix of entertainment, social pressure and service will lead to more sales.

A report in the Wall Street Journal this morning explores the connection between social networks and shopping neuroses, examining five new services trying to rethink the online marketplace, at least when it comes to women's apparel and accessories.

J.J. Martin writes:

Several new fashion websites—among them Feyt, Lyst, Pose, Snapette, Motilo, Trendabl, the Cools and even Pinterest—are today's social pioneers, taking the "trusted girlfriend doubling as personal shopper" idea and embedding it onto the digital shopping experience, through photo sharing and real-time commentary from other shoppers, stylish insiders and even people you know. I can now shop with friends in New York, strangers in Paris and stylists in Los Angeles, while I'm at my desk in Milan. But will being more social make me a better shopper? Or will it simply make shopping home alone a lot more fun?

Can you make a digital storefront less like a directory and more like an experience without annoying the customer?

These businesses are trying to figure that out, finding their own balance between curation and communication, consultation and coordination. Too many strangers and the shopper feels overwhelmed; a lack of organization and the shopper is left clueless.

But the right advice from the right people (thanks to the right algorithm) could go a long way.

Photo: Pose

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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