Like Amazon, the other grand dame of e-commerce, eBay is tooling up for a new era of social commerce. eBay has just purchased Brands4Friends, Germany’s largest private shopping club (3.5m members) for €152m ($200m). Private shopping clubs, upscale variations on the Woot/Groupon daily deal theme (eBay launched it’s own daily deals Woot clone back in 2009), offer time-limited deep discounts on branded goods, and account for 20% of online fashion sales in Europe, with Vente Privée as the market leader.
Brands4Friends is a German-market centric minnow ($102m (£66m) turnover in Germany (nb Brands4Friends is also majority shareholder in UK private shopping club startup, SecretSales.com) compared to Vente-Privée $718m (£610m), but will no doubt help eBay grow FashionVault, it’s home grown private shopping club launched earlier this year).
This is the latest in a number of social and local commerce moves eBay has recently made:
- Dec 21, 2010: eBay launches GiftsNearby, a seasonal feature, to find in-stock goods at 26 large bricks and mortar retailers
- Dec 20, 2010: eBay acquires Brand4Friends, private shopping club and deals hub for ‘flash’ fashion sales
- Dec 02, 2010: eBay acquires Milo.com, local shopping search engine with customer reviews, adds results to RedLaser app
- Nov 1, 2010: eBay launches GroupGifts, a Facebook Open Graph powered, group gifting (gift suggestion, group purchasing) feature
- Jun 23, 2010: eBay acquires RedLaser, the barcode scanning price comparison application; scan the product and see how much cheaper you could get it locally (via Milo) and on eBay
- March 29, 2010: eBay launches FashionVault, a private shopping club and deal hub for fashion brands looking to sell overstock at deep discounts
What strikes us about this activity is that social commerce appears to be moving into a new phase where it is less about evolving into a discrete form of retail, and more about becoming a social layer that is added onto retail (along with a local and real-time layer) or vice versa – an retail layer that is added onto a social platform. In 2011, we’re likely to see more retailers (online and offline) add social, local and real-time layers to their businesses, whilst social platforms (and content hubs) will add retail layers to their businesses. In 2011, if you’re in the social commerce business – you’ll be in the business of adding social and retail layers to businesses…