I found Christy on pronto.com, a social shopping site, while searching for a Crock-Pot. I liked Christy's customer review enough to check out her Pronto profile, where I found we shared an affection for various household gadgets and funny movies. A tasty tidbit was Christy's recommendation of another "cooking" gizmo - a countertop revolving pizza oven. That discovery made my online shopping break more expensive, but a lot more fun than beef stew.
Comparison shopping online definitely looks a little ho-hum next to a Web site that introduces you to people who like what you like and help you find cool new things to buy. That's what IAC-owned Pronto learned when it revamped its 19-month-old comparison site with social media tools that allow users to build personal profiles, add friends and family and browse community recommendations. By the end of the year, traffic to the site exploded 2,800 percent, up to 9.7 million monthly unique visitors, garnering it honors as a "Top Ten Gaining Property" from comScore.
According to Brandon Warburton, Pronto's vice president of marketing, social shoppers are usually younger than 35 and "tend to be window shoppers. They spend three times more on a site than shoppers looking for the best deal," he says. Pronto's new mission: matching up the 1 percent of its audience that writes reviews with the 20 percent who create profiles and vote on products, and the 80 percent who stop by to see what other shoppers and the experts have to say.
Analysts say it is about time. Already about half of 18-24-year-old online shoppers are using social and community sites to decide what to buy, according to a survey by JupiterResearch and LinkShare, which was released in January. More than three-quarters of those shoppers think new social features would improve shopping sites, states the survey. Pronto says so far its traffic is evenly split between expert content and community content and it's experimenting with making its expert guides as brief and chatty as what the shoppers say to each other.Whatever. In the meantime, Christy, what did you think of the Rabbit?