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Social Commerce: $30B over the next 5 years

February 25, 2012

In an unsurprising twist, young male audiences with mid to higher disposable incomes are more comfortable providing their credit card details to a social network. The infographic below is based on some research commissioned by Digitas last month that helps shape the context of who is interested in social commerce, and looks at a forecast of where the revenue might head over the next 5 years.

While the Booz & Co report suggests a nice neat $30B expenditure figure within the United States, I’d suggest that social commerce is going to become extraordinarily difficult to measure in the coming years. The reason for this is simple – social commerce is quickly being integrated into every ecommerce site, blurring the lines between money spent on social networks, and money spent on what are traditionally considered to be ‘ecommerce’ only.

Take for example the likes of fab.com (which I’ve previously written about), Fancy , and even the rumoured future of Pinterest, which by the way, with up to 80% female audience, counteracts the male-skew that the infographic below suggests. Each example are standalone sites that are creating their own unique interests graph and attempting to turn them into direct ecommerce transactions. EBay bought Hunch.com last year in order to generate more socialised predictions of what consumers wanted to buy, based on an interrogation of their interest graph. A number of fashion brands trialled social commerce on their branded retail sites dating back as early as 2010, when they would try and match recommendations of clothing to other people like you who were browsing their store. Let’s also not forget about Amazon, who for years have had their basic recommendation algorithm suggesting products you should buy based on the behaviours of others within their shopfront.

They’re all legitimate forms of social commerce in one way or another, some more basic than others. Yet none of them would be considered a social media platform in the way that the Booz & Co report has tackled the problem.

So is $30 billion an accurate figure? I’m not sure it’s even close. I doubt if anyone selling things online in 5 years will be doing so without some methodology of tapping into a social graph – either by integrating into the API of one or more of the big social networks, or by creating their own internalised social graph on a standalone website. Add into that mix the mobile factor (mobile commerce will add to the social experience), and just about anything we buy with our disposable income will be traced back to a recommendation that someone, somewhere, sometime recently gave us.

 

 

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