The Future of Social Commerce: Not a Revolution, but a Plugin

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What did one social plugin company say to another?  You’re mine for $151m.  Bazaarvoice, market leader in social plugins for e-commerce sites has announced it is acquiring PowerReviews, #2 social plugin company for e-commerce sites.

Another riddle. How did one social commerce software company go from niche to mainstream and on track for increasing its customer base 10 fold?  8thBridge started selling social plugins for e-commerce sites rather than trying to reinvent e-commerce.

Selling social plugins for e-commerce (and increasingly in-store retail as well) seems to be the secret to social commerce success.  And not a revolution in sight (or on site).

For those versed in the peculiar area of “qwertynomics“, of how vested interests and structures lock-in incumbent solutions even if better ones exist (like the qwerty keyboard, invented to slow typists down by being as unpractical as possible to avoid mechanical arms colliding), the rise of the social plugin should come as no surprise.

Social plugins are incremental rather than disruptive innovation – and thus don’t come up against the wall of vested interests.  More radical revolutionary e-commerce solutions might possibly be better on paper, and even in practice, but we’ve a lot invested in the past. You’ve spent time money and effort on your existing e-commerce solution – so you need a new one like you need a bullet in your head.

Sure, social plugins for e-commerce are perhaps not as sexy as the revolutionary hutzpah of startups on a mission to radically reinvent e-commerce.  But they work, they deliver increased traffic, conversion and additional order value.  And they are psychologically smart too – they allow shoppers to shop smarter with their social intelligence.  Simple but smart – the future of social commerce may be the social plugin.

As Sir Isaac Newton once said, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants” – in the world of social commerce, commerce is the giant upon whose shoulder social must stand. Why?  Because that’s where the money lies.  And after all, it’s all about the money, the rest is just conversation,

About the author

Paul Marsden

Chartered psychologist specialising in consumer behaviour and technology. Certified CX professional experienced in Design Thinking. A researcher, writer and speaker, Paul is head of Digital Insight at SYZYGY.

5 comments

  • Thanks Paul! Nice reality check for those of us in the space.

    To expand on your Newton analogy, I think there are two giants here – Commerce & Social Networks.

    Either of these two need to form the foundation of the platform. Even if one day we have a true Social Commerce Platform, it will be built on these two foundation stones. Without either, the platform will crumble.

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Paul Marsden

Chartered psychologist specialising in consumer behaviour and technology. Certified CX professional experienced in Design Thinking. A researcher, writer and speaker, Paul is head of Digital Insight at SYZYGY.