Shopaholics beware; social media is changing the face of online shopping.
Several new Texas-based companies are providing customers with a plethora of merchandise twice a week at pocketbook friendly prices – all on Facebook.
“Using this platform is just so easy,” says Victoria Wise, co-owner of Jewelry Nut Auctions. “It’s the perfect way to shop while connecting with your friends.”
The idea began at a child’s play date, she says.
Wise and co-owner Meredith Miner, of Fort Worth, Texas, began selling jewelry from local vendors last year to their immediate network of friends on the site.
That network has now grown to more than 30,000 Facebook friends.
The format is simple: Each company has designated fixed-price “auction” nights twice a week, when they post pictures of the items for sale.
See something you want? Simply comment on the picture with the word “sold.” Auctions are first come first serve, invoices are emailed to the winners, and shipping is free.
“Part of the fun that Facebook adds is the community feel,” says Janey Steward, co-owner of another company called Accessory Auctions. “People can shop from their phone or through their computer and see what all of their friends like, too.”
Steward and her sister, Kristen Hillman, of Dallas, started the business last year. They noticed a niche for a quick and easy way for women to buy chic but affordable accessories.
The sisters have always been bargain hunters, Steward says. They discovered vendors that sell the latest fashion jewelry and accessories, but for half the price found at local boutiques.
“We weren’t sure if people would take to it,” she says, “but we thought, ‘Why not share this with our friends?’”
The page now has more than 25,000 likes from Facebook users across the country – and even some worldwide – logging on each week to purchase statement necklaces, scarves, watches and more.
These online bidding boutiques aren’t just selling jewelry and accessories.
In 2010, Nicole Brewer and Amy Laws began Smocked Auctions – a pioneer in the social media e-commerce trend. The company sells smocked and appliquéd children’s clothing.
While each auction offers different products, their owners have one thing in common: They are all moms with busy schedules.
“We understand not having time to run to different stores or do price comparisons,” Wise says, “so we’ve done that part for you.”
The products customers see are at the lowest possible prices, she says.
And the benefits aren’t limited to full-time moms. The auctions are just as appealing for young working women and college students, Wise says.
Accessory Auctions customer Laurens Adams, 26, of Charlotte, said the nighttime auctions fit perfectly into her workday. “The only downside is when I don’t win something I’ve been eyeing all week,” she says.
Wise said that’s all part of the excitement. “There’s certainly a competitive spirit to this type of shopping,” she says.
The popularity of this shopping trend has prompted the companies to expand to other forms of social media.
Miner and Wise say Jewelry Nut Auctions has a brand new counterpart: Style Nut. It will follow the same Facebook format but sell apparel and home décor.
The next step for Accessory Auctions is to develop their blog, Steward says, which will offer daily style inspiration for shoppers. While they considered moving to a regular website, they decided to stick with their community on Facebook.
“It creates more work for us, but we think it’s worth it,” she says.