Tag Archives: E-commerce

From Social Graph To Product Graph: Engaging Through Interactive Product & Content Display

Whenever I have purchased an electronic gadget, I have had a hard time deciding on compatible accessories or products that are related to my purchase, and their necessity. Questions keep popping in my head: Do I really need it, do I need some research on accessories as well, am I buying the right thing? And this has always made me admire the Amazon website as I find most of the answers right there. What I am talking about is their “also bought” and “considered” section on any product page.


I have also been a fan of Social graphs or Relation browsers (above), an aspect that I used in my professional networking venture Zitara. If we talk about some of the offerings available, we could look at Touchgraph that graphs Amazon books and clusters the results, relationships between them, etc. There are a few others e.g. Thinkmap, Constellation Roamer, that are relatively well known.

In my opinion, interactive product graphs within any e-commerce site that has numerous products to display, would make our selection & decision-making process much easier.

They should display the following aspects: Competing products that fit my budget (range), accessories (per product), product reviews, friends (degrees away) that bought any of the products within my selection criteria, etc.


This would facilitate ease of selection, faster decision making and effective user engagement:

  • Ease of selection: As demonstrated above, based on parameters aka ‘faceted search’ and by applying weights to your selection criteria
  • Decision making: Range of information right from a list of related accessories, friends who seem to have an opinion on that product, #reviews/ratings
  • User Engagement: Ability to make this as interactive flex-based chart so everything gets compared and decided right on this very page

Non-impulse buyers, such as me, probably waste 40-60% time by postponing their decision, as they feel they do not have the right data or adequate information to make the right decision. By becoming a one-stop shop for content (by sourcing, partnering) and an interface that aids decision-making (rather than confusing the buyer by giving him too many options to compare), an e-commerce site should definitely be able to take up the conversion rates up by 10-15% and reduce the time spent on indecision by 40-50%.


Key Elements of E-Commerce: Traffic & Monetization

To summarize the success of a website (through Fermi’s paradox), one would essentially need just two primary metrics: what’s the traffic and how well are you monetizing that. Monetization could range from a few basis points (basic ad impression), a commission (%age of GMV) or direct product sale.

Let’s look under the hoods of these two primary metrics. We could think of 6 drivers and probably 12-13 sub-drivers, as shown below:

Traffic: Partner, Search engine, Promotions and Word of mouth (social/online and offline).

Monetization: Advertisement and Transactions (independent of type e.g. subscription)


Most of the efforts to improve the performance of a website can be bucketed and accounted accordingly. However, let’s try to analyze when these drivers become significant during a ‘online’ business cycle.

  • Start-up: Search Engine, Word of Mouth + Social Marketing & Memes
  • Growth: [Start-up]  + Advertisement, Transaction
  • Maturity: [Growth] + Partner, Promotions
  • Decline: [Maturity]  + New disruptive idea | Graceful exit

However, irrespective of the phase, ‘Innovation’ is an indisputable driver for any online business offering and it’s success in the online world. The degree of innovation need may vary. In my opinion, ‘Innovation need’ is an inverted ‘U’ across the business cycle e.g. very high in Phase 1 (startup), moderate in the middle where you may not want to experiment too much with what seems to be working (except usability), and Phase 4 (decline). Organizations that are able to come up with a new disruptive idea in Phase 4, reverse their growth trajectory once again, the other have to conjure a graceful exit strategy.