Back in May of 2009 I commented on a video from Jeremiah Owyang about the future of the social web. In the video, he theorizes that the web will go from social relationships (simply connecting with people via facebook, twitter, etc) to social functionality (apps) and onto eras of social colonization and context where your friends will go wherever you go and the messages you receive are tailored to your likes.
In one of the final phases of the social web he talks about social commerce. In that he means that communities will come together to define the products and features they want and companies in turn will bid to fulfill these needs. In essence flipping the current model of a company bringing a product to market and encouraging/hoping that you’ll buy it.
Well, that era of social commerce may be official upon us. Today, Walmart Labs (the digital division of Walmart) is launching an initiative which crowdsources a handfull of the products it will stock on its shelves. Now, it’s just a start, but can you imagine how this could evolve? You could have pop-up stores that only carry items that their followers have requested. Inventories will get smarter based on sentiment and what the crowd wants. You could even eventually see PR agencies representing large groups of people rather than large companies.
I’m sure social commerce will move quickly through various phases and iterations as the web continues to evolve. What comes next though?