Advice on platforms that prioritize the integration of e-commerce functionality

(Bob Lavery) #1

Didn’t know quite where to jump in…we are currently doing our Feverbee best at capturing the essence of our community (network engineers in telco) via the Member Survey and Interviews as well as leveraging the Strategy Template and associated publications. We began our overall process as a search for marketplace software to elevate our e-commerce functionality, but came to realize that a community-first approach to development was called for. Yet our goal of a peer to peer marketplace for products, people and skill sets etc remains. We’ve exploited the platform comparison tool as much as possible (I believe), but would really appreciate some advice and commentary about platform selection that of necessity prioritizes the integration of e-commerce functionality with community engagement. Thanks in advance.

What platform should we use? Alumni Community
(Sarah Hawk) #2

Hi @blavery – I’ve moved this into a new topic so that we can talk specifics.

I’d be interested to see who else uses e-commerce integration. @Todd_Nilson do you know of any good examples?

We have a very rudimentary integration here between woo-commerce/WordPress/Discourse but I believe it could be done a whole lot better.

Do you want people commenting/having discussions specifically on product pages? I think @Gear_Buzz does something like that.

I know that @garthus is also building a community around product but I’m not sure at this point how integrated it will be.

(Gareth Williams) #3


We have so far setup:

Magento + Discourse

As well as setting up a Single Sign On, which means the forum members sign in using their Magento logins.

We aim in future to more deeply integrate the products but this is secondary to getting the forum running which we are giving a crack in the next few weeks :slight_smile:

Once products are in, the aim is to get customers able to tag products in comments, then once that is live customers will be able to view the posts on the product pages - we are talking a way off yet!

So far was a smooth setup with very little customisation of discourse / Magento, the future - a bit more tricky :slight_smile:

(Sarah Hawk) #4

Will you have people commenting directly onto product pages, or will the e-commerce and community areas be quite separate?

(Gareth Williams) #5

At first, they will be seperate - down the line we will look to integrate them tightly but that needs lots of modifications to Magento as well as some good planning / testing on the best way to show to customers.

(Todd Nilson) #6

Hi @blavery, I know we’ve been talking a bit about this offline but thought I’d weigh in here as well. I don’t know of many e-commerce integrations offhand. We seldom see a direct selling play with online communities. Online communities are typically conceived of as a no-selling zone due to their more private nature. It’s a great way to turn off customers and prospects if you are using the platform to sell. It’s like inviting your friends to a barbecue and then telling them that you’ve brought them there to tell them about a great timeshare opportunity…

That’s not to say that it cannot or should not happen if care is taken with the approach.

The element14 community has an ecommerce integration that helps you move from the discussion of a product to buying a component. Here’s a screencast showing the process (it uses Flash, so you’ll need to use Firefox or a browser that hasn’t blocked it).

Also, here’s a short think piece by Stephen Hamrick of SAP about considerations for integrating ecommerce with community platforms. I particularly liked his points about how essential enabling peer product reviews is. The upshot is that if you are going to integrate ecommerce with community, you must give careful thought to the customer journey to ensure that it’s positive every step of the way. SAP Jam integrates e-commerce using Hybris. This Forbes article includes a helpful “Awareness to Advocacy” graphic.

By the same token, here’s a longer piece by Forrester called “Harness the Power of Communities To Improve the Online Commerce Experience.” Like the shorter piece by Hamrick, this one talks about the usefulness of connecting the ability to buy and social reviews from within the online community experience. It also adds some use cases for including the ability to view multiple sources of community content from a product page and product detail pages. It also mentions having the ability to tag products from within community discussion pages. I know that element14 does this by enabling the ability to @mention any of its catalog products from within their Jive community.

What’s interesting is that this more recent thought leadership sees a bright future for integrating e-commerce with online communities. IDC’s Social Business Futurescape predicts that by 2020, 30% of all purchases will be made through an online community. Though that may be so, I have seen precious few examples in the wild. And even the market-leading platforms like Jive and Lithium software seem to lack a dedicated e-commerce integration.