There are a number of “social shopping” sites and, of course, numerous product or shopping-related blogs. Among the most visible in the first category are Kaboodle, ThisNext/Stylehive and Polyvore. They offer tools and features that allow people to share, compare and vote on products. The mainstream shopping comparison engines such as Shopping.com or PriceGrabber don’t fully enter into this realm, although Shopping.com is giving away an iPad if you become a “fan” on Facebook:
One could argue that the group-buying phenomenon, exemplified by sites like Groupon and LivingSocial (although there are literally dozens more), also falls into the category — though there isn’t any interaction among the participants. I’ve also argued in the past that social shopping is a natural area for Facebook and that the site could rival the largest comparison sites if it chose to develop it and/or partner with a product database (e.g., PriceGrabber).
This might be an opportunity for Yahoo as well.
I was told at one point by NearbyNow‘s CEO Scott Dunlap that the company went out and observed how people were using mobile devices while shopping. He said that they saw people taking pictures of products in the store with their phones and then sending them to friends for “real time” feedback via MMS or email. In that context the new sharing features on Bing Shopping make perfect sense.
Just as with other categories of search results on Bing, you can now send product listings to Facebook, Twitter or via email to selected individuals with a single click:
This is a small but important change that might have even more significance, as discussed, in a mobile context if people begin to look for feedback in “real time” on which camera or pair of shoes to buy. This general arena of shopping + social is largely undeveloped and ripe for further innovation.
We’re sure to see more from Bing and others as social shopping heats up.