Social Issues Within New Commerce
eCommerce has experienced a dramatic period of growth over the last two decades. Specifically, over the last five years, with the introduction of smart phones and the socialization of the web, eCommerce is yet again reinventing what it means to shop online.
As a culture we are now seeing a large uptake of mobile devices that expand the ways in which people connect with and obtain information. This trend has resulted in an increasing number of opportunities for people to shop for and purchase items online using mobile devices such as smartphones, e-readers, tablets, etc. This activity is called mobile Commerce or mCommerce for short. Many companies note the growth of mCommerce, for example PayPal reports that it processes up to $10 million dollars in mobile payments per day and predicts $3 billion in mobile payments in 2011. While there has been a large amount of research on eCommerce there has been comparatively very little that focuses on understanding mCommerce. This gap is important, as mCommerce is not a simple extension of eCommerce.
In addition to mobile commerce, other new forms of shopping are also emerging, such as Group Shopping sites. Like mobile adoption, the emergence of group shopping sites has significantly impacted the socio and cultural landscape, resulting in sites such as Groupon, LivingSocial, Plum District and Half-Off Depot becoming a key commerce trend over the last couple of years. These sites entice consumers with cheaper prices by leveraging group purchasing power. Groupon Inc, the largest online coupon company, saw revenue grow by 223% percent in 2010 and generated more than $700 million in revenue with a presence in more than 150 markets in North America and more than 100 markets in Europe, Asia and South America.
While these sites are quickly becoming large players within the commerce space, we still know very little about their user’s behaviours and social dynamics. Without knowing what people do, we cannot properly design the sites to support their activities and needs. This research examines these new forms of commerce; it suggests possible design implications, and discusses the implications of user participation with these systems.