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The digital firm 8thBridge, which launched its Graphite platform in April with enhanced social action buttons, has the potential to take social commerce mainstream — thanks to a partnership with GSI Commerce.
EBay Inc. acquired GSI Commerce in 2011 for $2.4 billion, and now has about 500 clients that utilize the provider’s commerce and marketing services, according to Reuben Hendell, chief strategy officer for GSI Commerce. GSI, which does about $4 billion in retail sales a year through all clients, works with 150 retailers on an e-commerce basis, including Aéropostale, Levi’s, Hot Topic, Ralph Lauren, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Toys ‘R’ Us, Calvin Klein, DKNY and Nautica.
“For most of these brands, shopping in a social context will be new. Most brands have been working in the social space world relative to customer care and service, but do not have a coherent strategy around using social behavior and the social graph in any kind of productive way towards involving consumers,” Hendell told WWD.
In addition to fully customizable sharing expressions, features available to GSI’s clients range from social curation to a social activity feed. There are potential rewards for sharing, and if a user forgets their password to an e-commerce site they can login with Facebook. Social discovery, in the form of fellow-user recommendations and ratings are also options for retailers, and the tool is compatible across platforms like Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.
Wade Gerten, founder and chief executive officer of 8thBridge, explained that there are three key parts to the company’s offerings, and retailers have the choice of opting in, as well as selecting the depth of social commerce they wish to implement within their digital flagships.
The first is that the technology is already integrated, Gerten said, so all the retailer has to do is opt in. Secondly, Graphite can cull data from consumers. “Finally, you are able to see who is influential and understand the social dimension. The way you use the data and make money is by integrating this with your marketing systems,” Gerten said.
He adds that the third is the strategic consulting and advice provided. Since social commerce doesn’t just mean a channel or place to sell and should effectively be part of a retailer’s operations, having insight into what people “truly care about and who knows who” is a tactical element.
Initial adopters of Graphite last spring included Oscar de la Renta, Nine West, Toms, Avon, American Apparel, Nasty Gal and Elle magazine, but now Gerten sees a real opportunity to bring social commerce “mainstream.” Until now, about 25 brands use Graphite — but with this new partnership, about 150 more retailers have the opportunity to go social.