Tesco has launched a new social commerce site for wine, Tesco Wine Co-buys.

Using Buyapowa social commerce software, consumers can club together to buy wine in bulk at discounted prices. What we particularly like is that it appears to be demand led; customers are able to choose wines they want to buy together in bulk – and set a maximum price they’d be willing to pay.  The more people that sign up, the heavier the discount – with the person who recruits the most co-buyers – via social sharing – getting a case of wine for free.  Sweet.

In the PR blurb, Tesco director of digital and social Tom Daniell says: “This channel really puts customers in control – from determining the final price they pay, to telling us the products they’d like to see featured.” Now you know. But the point is well made.  This is social commerce for the empowered customer.

We think Buyapowa is one of the few social commerce software companies that really ‘gets’ social commerce. First, it’s about commerce – i.e. shopping, not conversations, And second, it’s social, and that does not mean social spam from retailers or their customers, but shopping together as a social activity. Buyapowa gets this, and its software delivers by helping people shop together to get value.   And that is what the Tesco brand is about – value.

But if the new site is to be a success, Tesco is going to have to brand Tesco Wine Co-buys better – it really should look more like this or this, and it needs to offer value in more ways than just savings – access, appreciation and advice – will be key.

Right now – the ‘site’ straddles two sites – with users having to flip between Tesco.com and Buyapowa.com site to participate.  Apart from burgundies turning blue and tahomas turning to helvetica, it’s unclear what’s happening where. If we were involved, we’d be recommending Tesco consider using their wine club, currently hidden on the site, with a fresh new feel (again – look at NakedWines – they get it) as a vehicle for this initiative.  The idea is good enough to warrant this.

Whatever Tesco decides, they’ll need to avoid making this initiative look like a temporary promotion – and steer well clear of Groupon-style promotional cues – we’ve been there before and it didn’t work. Instead it should be looking at the new generation of e-commerce wine site like NakedWines 0r ClubW, which just raised $3.1M. But if Tesco decides to develop social commerce for wine, it has the muscle to trail blaze, and grow the site into a major e-commerce wine destination.

Tesco Wine Co-buys