Social Commerce

I finally did it. Earlier in the week I noticed that Wikipedia didn’t have a page for social commerce, so I tried to create one. 30+mins into it, IE 7.0.5730.11 crashed (too many tabs open) and I lost my work. No, I had not saved a draft. Yes, I should have used Firefox, as someone reminded me today. I switch between both browsers and had just happened to open IE then. Bad luck.

On the social networking panel at the MIT VC Conference today I talked a fair bit about social commerce and why I think it’s a trend worth watching. The concept resonated with panelists and the audience so I had no choice but to get back to Wikipedia and finish the job. Here is the social commerce page. Please, add more content/links.

Update: Well, despite the fact that to my knowledge at least 5-6 people contributed to the page and the content was starting to look pretty good, we weren’t able to defeat the Wikipedia bots–they auto-deleted the page, probably due to lack of references. Hard to have references to a new concept… It didn’t help that during that period I had to do a lot of travel and so had limited time to contribute. How about this–put some content in comments to this post and then I’ll try again early next year.

Social commerce is not new. Tupperware parties and other multi-level marketing schemes are all examples of social commerce but so are emerging models of selling & recommendation through social networks.

A couple of weeks ago I had lunch in NYC with an ex-IAC exec who knows more about online businesses and e-commerce than I can ever hope to learn. We were talking about areas that we find interesting and somehow social commerce came up. The discussion that followed was fast and enlightening. I guess we ended up agreeing on two things: (a) the concept of social commerce is sound and eventually, it will be a meaningful part of e-commerce and (b) many of the initial attempts at social commerce will be terrible failures.

Still, I believe in the ability of markets to evolve solutions to problems. From an investment standpoint, this means that I’m looking for highly iterative (hypothesize-test-adjust) capital-efficient businesses to try out specific social commerce ideas and platforms that can enable others to experiment. Both Allurent and 8th Ring have a role to play in the latter category.

I have written more on this in my E-Commerce 2.0 post/article as one of the three big trends to watch. (The other two are rich user experiences and disaggregation.)

About Simeon Simeonov

Entrepreneur. Investor. Trusted advisor.
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8 Responses to Social Commerce

  1. Hi Simeon,

    I just saw your note go by on the SCM editors list but thought that it might be useful to post here rather than reply in email.

    My first interpretation of social commerce commerce that was enabled by a social group – in other words things like (peer to peer lending in the United States) and (peer to peer lending that serves as a debt capital pool for micro-lending to entrepreneurs in developing countries.

    Do you think that is under the same name? It seems very different than your existing definition.


  2. Troy, I see many different ways in which social groups can enable commerce. The examples you provide use groups for capital aggregation and risk mitigation. Is this really P2P–there is an aggregator in the middle.

    When I use the term social commerce, I’m thinking about ways commerce happens in communities through more than the direct relationship of a buyer and a seller. For example, you recommending a book to a friend would be an example of social commerce, especially if you get some monetary benefit for doing this.


  3. William Volk says:

    I’d like to bring MyNuMo to your attention. It’s a social community centered around independent artists publishing into the Mobile (and soon VOIP) markets.

  4. I added some meat to the Wikipedia page but feel I did not do it justification. Social commerce is a huge issue based on trusting your community and society. When that trust is abused or lost, it is hard to come by. Think of it in terms of examples – what would you do if you purchased something online and XYZFoo corp took all your personal and credit card info and sold it? Not only would you never do business with them again, you would make sure others heard about this. The concept of social commerce is an important aspect of the web 2.0 movement.

  5. Vijay says:

    Has your Wikipedia page been taken down?

  6. Vijay, yes, apparently the Wikipedia bots have won. I’ll try again next year when I’ve had the chance to assemble more content for an initial post.

  7. Vijay says:

    I thought your entry had some good links…got me thinking as well 🙂

    In the meantime can you post those links on your blog?

    Thanks !!

  8. Ben Bloch says:

    In terms of Sim’s view of social commerce – “I’m thinking about ways commerce happens in communities through more than the direct relationship of a buyer and a seller.” e.g. “recommending a book”, I’d also like to add commerce between communities as another facet of social commerce and IMHO even more interesting. One company I am involved with is doing some things here (although can’t talk too much about yet – BOOO). It is more interesting and potentially more profitable because it solves tougher more complex problems associated with coordinating pricing and transactions across disparate – even ad hoc – groups.

    +1 on need for Wikipedia entry. Keep trying – I’ll try to help too!

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