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Fast Talk

4 Retail Revolutionaries Rethinking E-Commerce

Even as consumers flock to buy products online—more than $900 billion worth last year—the e-commerce market is still largely dominated by clunky storefronts. But these four companies are finding smarter ways to create a more dynamic, social retail experience.

Don Bradford

Don Bradford

VP of Social Product / eBay / San Jose

Problem: People are likelier to purchase something if their friends weigh in—but that's not easy to do on massive e-commerce sites.

Solution: EBay's new browser plug-in, Help Me Shop, lets users shop anywhere on the web and drag items into a separate window. Through Facebook, the user invites friends to give advice on the items they like best.

"As we spoke with our customers and really started analyzing their activity, we discovered that what they were doing was shopping in a social product life cycle: Things start out around inspiration and research—something that a friend shared with them, or something that an influencer had shared with them, whether it was on Twitter, Polyvore, Pinterest, or Svpply. They continue to connect with friends all the way to the point of purchase. And after the purchase, they can be a resource for other people shopping for the product. What makes Help Me Shop really powerful is that it goes beyond eBay's inventory. It's really about a social shopping experience that goes wherever I am and allows me to engage my friends in the shopping experience whenever I think it's useful."

Retail Therapy:

Kathy Savitt
Amy Lanigan
Tobi Lutke


A version of this article appeared in the May 2012 issue of Fast Company magazine.