LONDON: Social shopping is moving beyond the confines of traditional social networking sites such as Facebook as ecommerce brands look to build the social experience into their own model.

High fashion retailer Net-A-Porter, for example, launched The Net Set app four months ago as an invitation-only platform where users can "share and shop with the world's most stylish women", join "style tribes" to uncover like-minded users, content and brands, and shop everything they see through the app.

"When we started this it was all about creating a community but interestingly nearly every new member has gone on to buy a product," Sarah Watson, vp/social commerce at Net-A-Porter and creator of The Net Set, told Marketing Week.

"On other platforms if people are inspired to buy clothing the pathway isn't easy as they're switching between websites that are not always mobile friendly. We wanted to have our own viral social media app that could also combine shopping options and inspiring editorial content too."

The platform has so far attracted 85,000 members and Watson expected that to hit six figures in the near future. She also saw options for developing a loyalty program for the most active members.

Variations on the idea are appearing elsewhere. In India, for example, ecommerce giant Flipkart recently launched a new feature in its mobile app – Ping – which allows users to chat with their friends while shopping and so create a more social shopping experience.

Watson added that Net-A-Porter was not giving up on other social media platforms and would continue to post to them, but she felt that The Net Set model was one that other retail brands ought to consider adopting.

"Making the shopping journey easier is key and solutions which allow people to buy a dress, post a status, get recommendations and inspiration all through one platform are the most intriguing," she said.

She held up millennials as an example of a vital demographic that looks for instant gratification and doesn't feel inclined to filter through multiple sites.

"As a brand, I don't think you can just stop at an ecommerce website anymore," Watson said. "Having your own social media platform gives you more control, sure, but it can also create richer shopping experiences."

Data sourced from Marketing Week, Indian Express; additional content by Warc staff