Home Top Trends of 2010: Social Shopping

Top Trends of 2010: Social Shopping

In 2010, we’ve seen the rise of so-called “social shopping” services. They rely heavily on technologies such as social networking, crowdsourcing and smart phone scanners. Here we present five of the main social shopping developments of 2010. This kicks off a series of posts that will be published over November and December, looking back on the biggest web technology trends of the year.

The Web has of course always had an impact on shopping, from the dot.com flame and burns (Boo.com anyone?) to e-commerce success stories like Amazon.com and eBay. So what’s new in 2010?

ReadWriteWeb’s 2010 In Review:

Daily Deals

One of the biggest success stories of 2010 has been daily deals provider Groupon. In October we interviewed Groupon CTO Ken Pelletier to find out why Groupon has been growing so fast. He told us that Groupon’s growth has had “a really strong word of mouth element” to it.

Why has social software caught on with shopping? Pelletier explained that “people like to share a deal with friends for a variety of reasons. Maybe to help them save money, or maybe they want to plan to do something together. Or for a lot of social reasons.” Groupon receives a “high level of social sharing”, he said, and the service gets a lot of activity on Twitter and Facebook.

Groupon isn’t the only game in town for daily deals – we mentioned some of its competitors in September.

Real-Time Social Shopping

In June, Amazon bought online auction phenomenon Woot. At the time our own Marshall Kirkpatrick called the deal “a marriage of light- and heavy-weight supply chains,” but also noted that Woot is bringing real-time social shopping to Amazon.

Woot’s core service is to offer one highly discounted item for sale each day, until either time or inventory runs out. The items are of variable quality, but are often just good enough to buy.

Location Check-ins

Location has been a big trend this year and it affected the shopping sector too (indeed, some would say that the future of location apps is shopping). A good example was American Express and Federated Media announcing in August a free iPhone app, called Social Currency, built on the Foursquare platform. [disclosure: Federated Media sells advertising for ReadWriteWeb]

The app lets users track things they want to buy, upload photos of purchases, and comment on what their friends do – all the while pushing the updates to Twitter and Foursquare.

Facebook Shopping

This year Facebook has made huge bounds forward as a business and it has touched many sectors: including shopping. In June, Amazon added connectivity to Facebook in order to provide product suggestions based on likes and favorites pulled from your social graph.

By connecting your account, you allow Amazon to scrape the interests and favorites of your friends. You can then view suggested gift ideas based on this data.

Amazon also will populate lists of items that are popular among all of your friends, as well as suggestions based on your own interests.

Bar Code Scanning

Another trend to ramp up in 2010 was scanning barcodes using your smartphone. While technically this isn’t “social shopping,” it’s an enabler of much better information for consumers – which is inevitably shared to the wider Web.

There are a variety of mobile apps that enable bar code scanning and eBay bought one of them in June: Red Laser. Amazon also got into the barcode scanning game in 2010, with Amazon Mobile. Red Laser was one of the first iPhone applications to become popular with barcode scanning early adopters. The app allows customers to use their phone to scan barcodes of products on store shelves, in order to receive price comparisons from a database of merchants.

Barcode scanning is a rapidly growing market. According to data from industry leader ScanLife, the use of barcode scanners is up 700% in 2010. Other products in this market include Best Buy-funded Tecca and Google’s image recognition service Google Goggles.

So overall, 2010 has been a busy year for social technologies in the retail sector. Tell us some of your favorite moments this year in social shopping, or the apps you’ve come to rely on to help with your shopping.

With thanks to the coverage and analysis of Sarah Perez, Marshall Kirkpatrick, Adrienne Jeffries and Chris Cameron.

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The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

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