In the last week or so, Domino’s Pizza, Google and Group-Buy start-up SyncFu have all launched social commerce widgets to help people “friendcast” deals and sell to their online social circles.
Of course e-commerce widgets are not new; popular in 2007, Amazon has long been successfully offering widgets for customers to sell to their friends (and get up to 15% commission on any sales made) via their Amazon Associates plan. But although Amazon now has 900,000 Associates working as a commission-only sales force, affiliate widgets/associate plans have hitherto felt more targeted towards webmasters than casual web users.
The ubiquitous affiliate widget from Amazon…
So here comes a new generation of social commerce widgets seeking to democratise affiliate programs; designed for social media these are widget-powered affiliate programs for the people, if you will. Have a Facebook account? Then install a social commerce widget from your favorite brand or band on your profile – and make money…
First up is Domino’s Pizza that last week went live in the UK with their social affiliate programme (agency BLM Quantum, article). Simply install the widget on your profile or web page and you’ll get 0.5% of any pizza purchases made by visitors clicking on the widget.
Okay, so you are unlikely to get rich by selling pizzas to your friends with such a low commission – and the widget looks more like a proof-of-concept experiment in the LEAD (listen-experiment-apply-develop) tradition, rather than a fully implemented program.
But the concept behind the Domino’s social commerce widget is visionary; it takes us both back to the founding vision of social commerce – from Steve Rubel as personal online selling, and forward to Forrester’s vision of the fifth era of social media – networks of people producing for, and selling to each other.
Imagine if you could select your favorite brand from a Facebook gallery – and do a 1-click install of a widget to your Facebook page – and then get a cut of sales made via the widget (and a link from a shiny new brand avatar image). You could even implement network selling – if people installed a widget from your widget – you’d get a cut of their sales too. Now there’s a start-up idea – it could be one very profitable venture, and a simple solution for brands to mobilize their fans, transforming them into a volunteer sales force.
Commenting on the Domino’s widget, Geoff Northcott notes two interesting startups based on a similar business model; mflow – launching in two days (April 15) – a music discovery site powered by affiliate sales – follow people who’s music preferences match your tastes and every time you buy one of their recommended tracks, they get a 20% cut. And the same deal works for you. And Posse, a site that helps band fans promote gigs and get a share in ticket sales (via Ticketmaster) credited directly to their PayPal account.
Our prediction is that we’ll be seeing a whole lot more of these social media affiliate programs – from bands and brands.
Next up is Google’s eBay Social Shopping (eSS) Gadget, allowing people to embed an eBay widget and make recommendations on eBay items for sale (demo here, Google introduction here).
The eSS social commerce widget is another proof-of-concept deployment (there’s no reward for recommending eBay items), rather than full deployment. But, it’s a smart idea, if frustratingly presented in typical Google geek-speak, making it about as clear as Google Wave/Buzz. And it requires Google Friend Connect to work. Expect Facebook to deploy something for humans soon.
Finally, SyncFu is a new social commerce widget for e-commerce sites, allowing site owners to run their own Dell Swarm/Groupon.com style Group-Buy deals (TechCrunch review of SyncFu, Springwise article).
With SyncFu, caustomers pay for mobile (SMS) discount vouchers (via Allopass) that can be redeemed on the site – with a value that can vary depending on the number of people who sign up for the deal. Although customers cannot yet copy and paste SyncFu widgets to their own web/profile pages to promote a group buy deal in which they wish to participate – this could be a next logical step for SyncFu.