Social Commerce

Swipely: More Than Ad Platform for Retail Exhibitionists?

Swipely, a new social shopping site, Blippy-clone and Twitter derivative for sharing shopping news has just announced a further $7.5m round of funding from investors, before even coming out of private-beta.  And there’s a lot of industry commentary about whether Swipely will fly; is a platform for retail exhibitionists a viable business?

We think there is a big opportunity for Swipely-type social shopping sites – but maybe not what or where you’re thinking. We think the real commercial opportunity for Swipely-type sites to become B2B ‘Peer Monitors’. Let me explain.

The obvious opportunity is to turn Swipely into a targeted ad platform: Like Blippy, Swipely is a social shopping platform that works by creating a Twitter-style online news feed of purchases made using customer, bank and credit card accounts linked to the site.  Since ad targeting based on real purchasing data is superior to targeting based on demographics, psychographics or sociographics, it follows that if Swipely can build its user base then it can become a compelling ad platform.

But is Swipely’s current share-and-comment value proposition compelling enough to ensure mass usage – once credit card leak worries abate).  As a standalone platform, assuming Swipely doesn’t get folded into Twitter/Foursquare, it’s not clear what value Swipely and Blippy sites offer – apart from an outlet for retail exhibitionism and the possibility of one day receiving more relevant ads.

If the goal is to become a me-too platform for highly targeted ads, then Swipely may have to add more utility to the service to make it more compelling, such as by adding other social shopping features; picklists, personal shopping recommendations and crowdsourced price comparison/purchasing advice (think Polyvore + Swipely, or Blippr + Blippy).  Add in a notification service showing you how much you could save by changing what and where you shop – then Swipely might just fly.

But we think the real opportunity for Blippy/Swipely-type sites is not in B2C, but B2B – and there’s a compelling precedent – a legal information service called PeerMonitor.  Owned by Thomson-Reuters, PeerMonitor is a platform that automatically aggregates anonymized financial and operating information sent in from participating law firms. The participating firms then access the database to see how their performance compares with that of peers and how other markets compare with their own—data that may help a firm decide, for example, whether to expand geographically or whether a key practice area is operating efficiently. This benchmarking service is valued so much that Thomson-Reuters’ subsidiary Hildebrandt charges handsomely for it.

It’s easy to see how Swipely could be adapted into such a B2B service:  Imagine how useful it would be to know what your industry peers and competitors are both charging and paying for services, subscriptions and products.

Then imagine you could buy business supplies from your B2B Swipely site, through a B2B version of Groupon.  A business model with not one but two revenue streams – and you don’t need huge audiences. That’s why we believe there is a commercial opportunity for Swipely-type sites as B2B Market Monitors. Thoughts?

Or perhaps the future for Swipely-type sites is the ad platform for retail exhibitionists niche?

Chartered psychologist specialising in consumer behaviour, wellbeing and technology. Certified CX professional experienced in Design Thinking. A researcher, writer and speaker, Paul is head of Digital Insight at SYZYGY.

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  1. Hi Paul

    I don’t disagree with you on where these platforms could go and their potential value if adopted.

    My questions is..where is the social value which is both the viral loop and the incentive to participate?

    I’ve been standing back commenting on these as I can’t find the rationale for the consumer’s participation. And without that, how can they fly?

    Your take on the ‘why’ will folks participate in a retrospective act like this which is really not part of shopping is…?

    1. Hi Arnold, thanks for the comment; I completely agree that blipply/swipely need to offer a compelling incentive to participate – I think they’re fueled by novelty value alone at the moment. Think they need to add real utility value to grow long term. That’s why I love the Peer Monitor B2B variation, it’s a real service of value, made up from aggregating purchasing and income data…

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