Friends and trends make these sites excel.
Books, movies and music are, in most cases, all different versions of the same thing: entertainment. And selling entertainment requires a different finesse than most other products.
While a shopper might want to know that a sweater is wool rather than acrylic, most consumers couldn't care less about the paper stock used in a book. Books, movies and music shoppers instead want to know as much as possible about the content: Will it make them laugh? Cry? Is there a surprise twist? And, as entertainment is highly social, they also want to know what others think of it.
In a way, this approach makes entertainment products an easier sell online because consumers are not as concerned about touching and feeling a product. But it also means these retailers better serve up a lot of content—and in a compelling way.
That's what makes the books, movies and music retailers in this year's Hot 100 excel. BN.com, for example, allows a visitor to preview parts of the book she is considering online if she logs into the site—something an apparel retailer couldn't do with a pair of jeans.
Music retailer Spotify, meanwhile, brings the social aspect of entertainment into its strategy. People like to listen to tunes with friends, so a Facebook integration enables listeners to share on the social network tracks they listened to, and collaborate with friends to create playlists together. BookDepository.com, on the other hand, offers a voyeuristic (and slightly addictive) map feature that shows a streaming view of what books are being purchased in each country across the globe at any given moment.
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