Website Features that Gave Rise to Social Commerce: A Historical Analysis

Renata Gonçalves Curty, Ping Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

149 Scopus citations


Social commerce is a form of commerce mediated by social media and social network services (SNS). As a multifaceted phenomenon, social commerce can be studied from different angles and analyzed through the lens of various disciplines. This article examines website technical features to depict the transformation of e-commerce into social commerce. We first develop a conceptual framework to capture three emphases of e-commerce: transactional, relational and social. Then, we use the framework to conduct an historical analysis of the actual website screen captures for five top e-commerce companies since their websites were established. We were able to identify and classify a total of 174 emerging technical features. Our results show that: (1) all three emphases were expressed in the websites and have been reshaping their business and marketing strategies over the years; (2) there was a clear blooming of social features in 2007; and (3) there has been a significant effort to strengthen customer and merchant ties through relational features. Our findings signal that there still is room for further exploration of the social emphasis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)260-279
Number of pages20
JournalElectronic Commerce Research and Applications
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2013


  • E-commerce
  • Framework development
  • Historical analysis
  • Machine
  • Social commerce
  • Social shopping
  • Wayback
  • Website features

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Marketing
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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