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Social commerce, helping people connect where they buy and buy where they connect, has been something of Sino-American affair in recent times – as far as headlines go, at least.  The group-buy trend that originated in China ‘Tuangou‘ has spread online to 1,664 group-buy social commerce platforms; Mercedes recently sold a car a minute on one such group-buy site.  In the US, retailers – online and store-based – are increasingly adding innovative social layers to retail.
But in the UK, whilst what could be called ‘social commerce 1.0’ (user reviews, user Q&A) is widespread, there’s been significantly less of newer ‘social commerce 2.0’ – shopping with your social graph. Ebay even made headlines last year saying the UK was not ready for social commerce yet.
Things are changing.
This January, leading online fashion retailer ASOS is opening up a store in Facebook, a store tab featuring its full product line – adding 1,300 products every week.  And because Asos, the UK’s largest independent online fashion and beauty retailer, is something of the UK’s answer to Zappos, offering a best of breed shopping experience, the UK media is all over it.
The ASOS f-commerce store will allow transactions to take place without leaving the network, and will include full product search, as well as like, share, and review tools.  Given ASOS’ gold-standard standing in the UK online retail world, other leading retailers and brands are likely to take note – and take the cue from Asos. Expect to see a 2011 move in the UK to harness Facebook both as an e-commerce platform, and as a social layer to integrate into site-based e-commerce.
ASOS’ move to f-commerce in the UK is anteceded by that of Best Buy’s arrival in the UK.  Best Buy, the leading US electronics retailer was a pioneer in f-commerce, and has recently opened up shop (storefront, no check-out) on Facebook in the UK with Wishpot.  Earlier last year, Procter & Gamble opened up a campaign store in Facebook for its Max Factor line of makeup, teaming up with Amazon for checkout and logistics.
Of course, this activity smells of opportunity for social commerce solution providers – Wildfire, with it’s Facebook group-buy app, has recently set up in the UK; the f-commerce specialist Milyoni (NBA, UFC, HBO, the ONION) opens up today in London though a JV with London-based Punktilio.  And this week, a new one-stop-shop social commerce platform opens its doors in the UK – Gloople.
Gloople, from London agency Browser Creative, with the charismatic social media marketing expert Warren Knight, will offer Facebook store apps, group-buy apps, and social plumbing for online stores (prospectus download).  See presentation below.
Internet Retailer now hails 2011 the year of social commerce in the UK, as does reporting in the UK’s Guardian newspaper whilst the Feb 2011 UK edition of Wired magazine runs with a cover story on social commerce. So welcome to London social commerce; we wish you a prosperous 2011.

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    Tweets that mention UK Social Commerce Space Heats Up: Asos, Best Buy, Gloople, Milyoni | Social Commerce Today — Topsy.com

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    Fabio De Bernardi

    Paul, as a representative of the London social commerce scene (if we can call it that way) I can confirm that there’s a mounting interest, which started around October-November.
    Let’s hope to see more courage from retailers on this side of the pond because I saw way too many companies which prefer to be second movers (if not third, fourth, etc.) in their sector and see that someone else did it already, successfully.
    My hope is that Asos move will convince most skeptics to make a move and build their merchandising presence on social networks.

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    Warren

    Paul, thank you for the great write up in your blog, always loving your work!!!

    We are very excited about how the UK has embraced Social Commerce and with Gloople, we can now offer e-tailers a social solution to their e-commerce at an affordable price.

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    Daniel Winterstein

    I think Gloople’s easy-setup social media sites could make a real difference. Social media is perfect for SMEs — if the barriers to entry can be lowered.

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