Retailing has several persistent problems: the high cost of attracting visitors, the low probability that they become buyers and the difficulty of getting them to come back. Sociable e-commerce offers potential solutions to all of them. So expect your favourite site to add social features, whereas many of the pioneers will end up with arrows in their backs, as innovators often do.
it may be a third generation of social-shopping sites that really deserves the label, says Sucharita Mulpuru of Forrester Research. The latest batch of firms try to build their business on top of the “social graph”: the network of friends spun on social networks. They make use of virtual currencies and the growing popularity of smart-phones, which can track consumers’ location.