Shopping can be a very social activity; in fact it’s the favorite social activity for teens.  So why does social shopping (co-browsing, wishlists, group-buying…) online have such a chequered history?

Remember Smackshopping, Microsoft’s $50m social shopping venture (Deal of the Day Dutch Auctions)?  Deadpool.  Or Group Buy pioneer LetsBuyIt?  Deadpool.

Enter Plurchase, a new social shopping site that lets you shop with friends on sites like Amazon, Zappos and even Craigslist.  The Killer feature? Your favorite stores, only better.  Just go to Zappos, but from Plurchase, and you’ll see an extra sidebar appear on the site featuring livechat, buddylist, bookmarking and ratings.  Use the sidebar to invite friends to browse with you and give shopping advice (from your list, by email or via Facebook Connect).


So what to make of Plurchase?  At one level Plurchase appears ‘simply’ to add instant messaging and social bookmarking to online stores.  These are free tools that are widely available; just open Amazon in your browser, in a new tab, and fire up your chat app.  So why bother using Plurchase?

The answer is that Plurchase is smooth; there’s nothing to download or install (from vendor or shopper perspective); you just go to the site via Plurchase to see your Plurchase sidebar.  Plurchase is sweet because the experience is smooth.

Sure, you can cobble together your own solution, and Google Wave promises to do what Plurchase does, but Wave’s geeky interface is likely to put off people looking for a nice shopping experience. Plurchase allows you to ‘socially augment’ your shopping experience and shopping decisions, but with no tedious messing around with plugins, apps etc.  You’ve got a browser, you’ve got Plurchase.

Think of Plurchase as augmented reality for online shoppers.  It might just work.