Yesterday, Amazon set about acquiring the Texas-based “one-deal-a-day” real-time social shopping phenomenon with added attitude Woot!

“Selling Cool Stuff Cheap”, Woot is a community-first group-buy site, a digital version of TV shopping that promotes interaction among shoppers, and offers various shopping channels – shirt.woot, kids.woot, wine.woot etc and a deal aggregator deals.woot (vital statistics, b. 2004, revenue $164m (08), growth 39.7%, 2.6m members, 2.2 monthly visitors, 1.6m Twitter followers, 19K Facebook fans, 160 employees).

We think the Woot! acquisition is a smart, pragmatic ‘look before you leap’ move from Amazon in the fast-evolving world of social commerce – and one that brands considering social commerce could look to for inspiration. The strategy is simple; identify social commerce solutions that work in the field first, and then deploy them.  Not necessarily through acquisition or partnership, but through emulation – emulation of that which works.

Social commerce has many facets, is evolving fast, and much of it is still experimental – Facebook social plugins, curated marketplaces, Facebook stores, deal feeds, real-time group deals with active pricing etc. Many but not all these new solutions have yet to establish clear proof-points in terms of opportunity and return – making investment risky.

In the social commerce arena, Amazon has been accused of missing the boat on social commerce, gold standard use of ratings and reviews, lists, social profiles and communities, notwithstanding.  Rumored to be interested in acquiring private flash-sale club giant, Vente-Privée after its purchase of Zappos, Amazon has stayed on the sidelines with respect to some of the more innovative and esoteric implementations of social commerce.  And watched, and learned – and now is investing in what works.

So how could Amazon’s pragmatic evidence-based social commerce strategy be applied to your brand?  Well, if we look at what appears to be working in the “new” world social commerce (i.e. beyond user content on e-commerce sites); group-buy deals and private sale clubs appear tower above other solutions in terms of user popularity.  So how could your brand deploy group-buy and private-sales – and in doing so emulate the strategy of the world’s premier e-commerce business?

Woot’s announcement of the Amazon acquisition – in it’s own inimitable style…  Followed by a recent interview with Woot! director Darold Rydl.