The emergence of sites such as Facebook and Twitter is transforming how businesses approach customer service, an expert has suggested.
According to entrepreneur and business specialist Alex Pratt, the growing popularity of social networking sites is significantly impacting on the ecommerce sector in particular.
This, he said, is because the emphasis has switched from purely selling a product to demonstrating they have intimate knowledge of the items they sell.
Mr Pratt has therefore encouraged ecommerce providers to set themselves up as a "place that answers the questions that people might want to buy your products are going to have".
"The social media thing is changing the way people buy things fundamentally," he commented.
Mr Pratt added that the days of people simply going to a shop, browsing and purchasing a product are "long gone".
He was speaking after the Internet Commerce Association said the online shopping market is continuing to grow at a healthy pace, despite ongoing economic problems.
Posted by Richard Jones