In present scenario, the users of internet look for, communicate and share data by the means of various social networking websites for example, Facebook, Twitter, You Tube etc. By sharing information over these sites there is development of trust based relationship among the individuals. Number of theorists believes that expanding the aspects of social networking with electronic commerce will help in improving the trust among the various online transaction partners and it will allow attainment of higher economic value (Liang and Turban, 2011). The expression social commerce (SC) has been derived from the definitions of ecommerce and social networking. Social electronic commerce can be understood as the accomplishment of the e-commerce transactions and activities by the use of web software and social media. Thus, Social electronic commerce can be regarded as a subset of social networking and e-commerce which enhances the use of social media for assisting the customers in their commerce related activities and transactions. Though, the social electronic commerce is regarded as a new phenomenon and it so keep on emerging day after day as well as has fetched the attention of the researchers across the globe. The purpose of this paper is to analyses the current stature of social electronic commerce and the associated opportunities and challenges of the social e-commerce (Pavlou, 2003).
With increased diffusion of social e-commerce in the lives of people and the business organisations, there has been offered numerous research opportunities both from a practical as well as theoretical point of view. In such an innovative form of business facilitated by the use of social media, both the organisations and the consumers take advantages. The customers are empowered with more know ledged and informed buying by the other consumers (Turban, et al., 2003). The organisations achieve higher earnings by the positive recommendations made by the existing customers for attracting the new and potential customers. In particular, the primary attention will be on the various studies, researches and articles describing the various aspects of social electronic commerce and the associated opportunities and challenges of the social e-commerce in an organisation. In this manner, it will be possible to probable to summarize the present evidences considering the social e-commerce and outlining some of the open challenges (Yang, et al., 2012).
With the rise of various so vial media channels, there is spending of more time over the use of the social media. Because of the strong advent of the social media and networking sites, the voice of the customers has raised and became much stronger than earlier. In the past, the sales were used to be a result of the vast messages spread by the means of advertisements; they are now more reliant upon the customer relationship building. But in the world of social e-commerce, fetching and impressing new and potential customers have become less significant as the organisations emphasis more upon the longtime customer value, customer relationship and ongoing engagement (Wu, et al., 2015).
In numerous studies, the researchers have focused upon the numerous opportunities present in the social e-commerce. These opportunities include the “Potential merchandising opportunities”. The social e-commerce allows the vendors or the organisations to develop their pool of the potential buyers by up surging the volume of various e-commerce transactions and activities (Wang and Zhang, 2012). It is usually recognized that withy the increase in the customer loyalty there is enhancement in the growth and profits of the organisation. The researchers also emphasizes upon the other opportunities of social e-commerce which includes “Improved external and internal advertising and communication”. The effective advertising is one of the major sources of revenue and profit generation and it is used as a vital part of number of social e-commerce sites. The potential of the market is amplified by the various social networking sites which allow the organisations to rapidly reach extended pool of potential buyers and several product sites. In concern with the internal advertising process, the customized and tailored advertisements appear to the users are generally based on their particular likes and interests by the profiling done with the help of the social e-commerce (Vajapeyajula, Radhakrishnan and Varma, 2015).
The next opportunity discussed by the theorists is the “Robust consumer influence by the recognized individuals”. The influence of one consumer on another consumer is much higher than the influence of the sellers. In certain cases, the online buyers usually wait for the responses and the opinions of the early users before making a buying decision for reducing the risk of purchasing new and unknown merchandise (Seedorf, et al., 2014). The next opportunity is, “Increased trust, intention to purchase and social presence”. The social presence is of vital significance and importance to the e-commerce websites because of the impersonal and cold nature of the simulated and virtual environment of the social world (Frutos, Giones and Miralles, 2014). Furthermore, the presence of trust shows a positive impact on an individual’s intention of engagement with the social e-commerce. In practice, there must be integration of the social plugins with the e-commerce platform which can enhance the perceived trust, purchasing intention and social presence of the online customers. The next opportunity is, “Economic development of the already present social e-commerce”. The services of social e-commerce are booming across the globe. It has practiced extended growth, fascinating a large number of the customers and the organisations. As a result, there is achievement of increased and continuous economic development (Salvatori and Marcantoni, 2015).
Another opportunity is, “reduced initial fixed costs”. The features of the social e-commerce permit the organisations to incorporate this form of platform with squat initial fixed costs. The next opportunity focused by the researcher is, “Easy update of product via social media”. This was considered as an opportunity because the vendors or the organisations can update the information of the products and also it’s associated relevant media over the social networking sites with fewer efforts, particularly if matched to the conventional shopping, therefore it is helpful in offering the customers with the latest fashions and trends regarding the merchandises and the products (Baghdadi, 2013). Another opportunity is, “Improved market trends’ prediction”. It is one more primary reason for implementing the social e-commerce technology in the business operations. The social networking sites helps in developing the social interactions, which emphasis the customers to maintain, foster and cultivate the online associations, it is an important and vital predictor of the purchasing behaviour and patterns of the consumers. Next opportunity is, “Better approachability of the network shops”. In the marketplaces of social e-commerce, the expanded networks can make the shops more approachable to the potential buyers, thus, it helps in improving the business of the resellers. Also, the shops are much more probable to be discovered by the browsing consumers (Huang, Yoon and Benyoucef, 2012). Another opportunity of social e-commerce is, “Increased accuracy level of the recommender system”. For attaining improved incorporation of the recommender system, it is essential to offer an advanced and efficient user tracking. The identification of the activities of the buyers over the social networking services offers the social e-commerce an opportunity for creating more customized offers and supports the clients for coping up with the wide informational loaded issues which occurs on a continuous basis in the social e-commerce businesses (Lee, et al., 2006).
Numbers of researchers and analysts have given their arguments which oppose the benefits and advantages of social e-commerce, as they are more focused upon the numerous issues and challenges which are prevailing in the social e-commerce applications. The first challenge discovered is, “The development of the feasible business models”. The organisations which are small in nature have to encounter a potential challenge related to funding because of the basic revenue needs required for supporting a wide social e-commerce initiative (Linda, 2010). To implement an efficient and successful social; e-commerce, an organisation must grasp the correct combination of the strategic direction, technical process and financial resources. The capital needed for implementing the changes is extremely high for validating the requirement of change and usually the small scale organisations does not have huge investments for implementing such technologies (Lu, Fan and Zhou, 2016).
The next challenge is, “Development of the new theories”. The diversity of the new technological challenges for the social e-commerce necessitates the development of the new and innovative theories. Therefore, the social e-commerce is fetching increasing attention from the industry and the academic for the development of the innovative technologies and theories for understanding the behaviour of the users in regards with the social media (Cecere and Owyang, 2010). Another challenge encountered is, “Work and time to manage and implement social e-commerce”. For implementing a social e-commerce platform, the organisations are required to spend resources and time to find the required assets and to manage the internal organisation. Presently, the need to work rapidly and evolution of the global crisis prevents the resources from being intended to the incorporation of the social e-commerce platforms. The next challenge is, “Some features occurring as initially challenging for use”. It is analyzed that the features of social e-commerce can be challenging and difficult for the customers to use, particularly if they are innovative and are not the intuitive tools (Nadeem , et al., 2015).
Another challenge or problem is, “Popularizing the new platform”. There has been a significant increase in the number of social e-commerce platforms, and in that case it becomes difficult for the organisations to fetch the attention of the adequate number of the customers (Salvatori and Marcantoni, 2015). The next major challenge is of, “Privacy or Security”. It is widely researched and identified that that the social networking websites and the social e-commerce platforms are frequently the sufferers to the social engineering outbreaks. Thus, the illegal activities such as disclosing or sharing of the sensitive and confidential information on publically approachable or even internally shared workstations may result in invasion of the privacy and security breaches (Ronca, Calvanese and Birtolo, 2013).
Another challenge is, “Less control over the social networking sites which are external”. Relying completely upon an outward social network is not at all safe and it can be justified with various explanations. For example, at the time of issue of server getting down of the social network, the organisation and the business may face the potential threat of losing their online sales because of this issue (Fija?kowski and Zatoka, 2011). Another challenge in social e-commerce is, “Capturing the right user associations”. At the time of conducting the analysis of the social network, it is essential to engage to the challenge of acquiring the customers’ relationships via identification of their mutual interest. The explicit association between the customers just demonstrates the part of the associations; in fact, most of the users who have mutual interest are associating with each other just in an implicit manner. Therefore, it is complex and hard to attain the correct and appropriate user relationships (Salvatori and Marcantoni, 2015).
This paper offers the outcomes attained from a systematic review of the diverse literature available on the subject of social electronic commerce. The literature was based upon the various journals, books, articles and paper of various researchers focusing upon the application of social e-commerce. From the literature obtained, it can be perceived that the subject of social e-commerce is fetching increasing interest from the society and the theorists. It has also analyzed that the organisations should implement the social e-commerce platform, offering the technological aspects which permit the product suggestion and the customer interaction. By such things the organisations can attain huge economic growth. From the various literature, there has been identified several challenges in the implementation of the social e-commerce which can further helpful in future research. There are serious problems and challenges such as privacy and security, these challenges acts as the barricades in the smooth functioning of the social e-commerce. There are various opportunities identified in the literature which can help the organisations to gain attention towards incorporating the application of social e-commerce in the business operations. In future, it is predicted that there will be wide and vast research over the subject of social e-commerce and its pros and cons for the consumers and the business organisations.
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