When we spoke to eBay's VP of Social Commerce Don Bradford for our April edition of Fast Talk, he identified social shopping as one of the massive e-retailer's problem areas. Simply put, eBay knew shoppers were more likely to purchase things if their friends weighed in during the decision process. It's why others have tried--and mostly failed--to make e-commerce as social as its offline counterpart. (Yes, Facebook and Beacon, we're looking at you.) eBay's own social web bookmarklet, Help Me Shop, lets you save the things you like around the web then ask your friends for their opinions. But the feature hasn't taken off like Pinterest, Polyvore, and Svpply, all of which have their own dedicated followings.
Which is why it's very good news for eBay that it just acquired Svpply, a retail curation site that lets users upload photos of the items they covet from brands and designers across the Internet. In July, Svpply took that consumer fervor into the physical world with its Store Explorer, which mimics the fun of real-life window shopping by neatly mapping out stores in 21 cities across the country. With Store Explorer, you can open up Svpply on your iPhone or iPad, locate stores that sell the products from brands and designers you already love on Svpply, then walk in and purchase those items.
Svpply has told Fast Company in the past that its long-term goal was to eventually turn Svpply into a one-stop e-commerce site that would allow users to browse and easily purchase any of the items they and fellow tastemakers posted to the site in one easy-to-use interface, regardless of which websites those items originated from. And though eBay may not have nailed social commerce yet, something it can definitely do is sell--to the tune of $72 billion in 2010.