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School of Business | Department of Marketing | Marketing | 2016
Thesis number: 14610
The role of social elements in e-retailer's business model
Author: Vertanen, Ilkka
Title: The role of social elements in e-retailer's business model
Year: 2016  Language: eng
Department: Department of Marketing
Academic subject: Marketing
Index terms: markkinointi; marketing; liiketalous; business economics; mallit; models; vähittäiskauppa; retail trade; e-business; e-business
Pages: 77
Key terms: business model; e-commerce; social commerce; e-retail; webshop; online shopping; social features; social plugins
While shopping online, consumers love to share their experiences with their peers. A modern webshop has multiple social elements to enable and encourage this behavior. A customer review and Facebook Like button on webshop's product page are examples of social elements. Social elements do not only affect positively customer behavior but also collect data for e-retailers to use, for example, to boost marketing and sales.

A business model explains how a company creates value. Social elements do not contribute to the value creation directly, but they can participate and help the value creation process. The objective of this study is to find out how social elements support e- retailer's business model.

Most of the academic research relating to social elements focuses on how they affect consumers' behavior. Less emphasis has been put on the research about other benefits social elements have. Business model literature has focused on defining the concept, identifying business model's building blocks, and creating taxonomies. There is no previous research about how social elements can offer support or how they link to e-retailer's business model.

This study approaches the research topic using qualitative research methods. The study consists of two stages. In the first stage, the social element setup is observed on twelve popular webshops. In the second stage, six e-commerce professionals are interviewed. Sales, marketing, and data oriented use cases for social elements are identified and linked to appropriate components of the e-business model framework.

Social elements can help an e-retailer in its marketing, sales, and, by providing valuable data, product management. The study finds that the importance of marketing and sales related benefits is greater than earlier anticipated and that these benefits are pursued on a wider scale than before. Social elements are an important part of e-retailers tool set but for the business model to receive support from them, e-retailer has to define goals, build processes and develop abilities for harvesting customer insights. By making social elements integrated part of its customer dialogue, e-retailer can build deeper customer relationships, identify trends, and improve its product offering to match evolving customers' needs.
Master's theses are stored at Learning Centre in Otaniemi.