April 18, 2011, 3:20 PM

The social web enables consumers to discover new products

That’s why Bazaarvoice is linking ratings and reviews to Facebook.

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Social commerce is inherently about retailers building relationships with consumers around shopping, says Mike Svatek, chief product officer at Bazaarvoice Inc.. That’s why the ratings and review vendor has launched three separate pilot programs, each of which is aimed at helping retailers develop more intimate connections with shoppers.“We believe that a social network can be a very powerful tool where consumers can connect with someone they trust,” he says.

The three new products, which Bazaarvoice will roll out in the fall, are:

• Bazaarvoice Customer Intelligence: An analytics application that provides real-time data to retailers based on conversations on both the retailer’s e-commerce site and across social networks.

• SocialConnect Suite: A program that merges a shopper’s social profile with the Bazaarvoice application that allows a consumer to share a review written on a retailer’s product page with other consumers via a social network. The offering also more prominently displays comments posted by the consumer’s Facebook friends when a consumer is on the site.

• Bazaarvoice Platform: The program enables developers to create social commerce-related applications using new application programming interfaces, or APIs.

Like rival ratings and reviews technology vendor PowerReviews, Bazaarvoice has enabled consumers to click that they Like the retailer or brand they are reviewing while they’re writing the review.

“Most brands’ advocates and high lifetime value customers are trained to come to a retailer’s web site,” he says. “They don’t necessarily visit the brand on Facebook, which means that the majority of those customers don’t Like the brands they are passionate about. This makes it easier to bring your best customers into what is essentially the new e-mail database.” Svatek considers Facebook followers as the new e-mail database because retailers can use the social network to target special offers to them.

After it rolls out these new features, Bazaarvoice is focused on fixing a crucial problem retailers must deal with on Facebook—the speed at which retailer-related posts can disappear from a consumer’s Facebook page, says Svatek. That challenge arises because the average Facebook user has 130 friends on the site, each of whom posts, on average, 90 pieces of content a month. That results in a consumer’s news feed rapidly changing, making it easy for a consumer to miss a retailer’s communication.

Bazaarvoice is developing an offering that links its question-and-answer feature to Facebook. That will enable a consumer to ask a question on a retailer’s web site, send the question to the social network and have the responses he receives on Facebook posted on the retailer’s web site. The problem that product faces, he says, is privacy because a consumer’s friends who respond to the question would have to consent to having that information posted on a retailer’s web site. “But if we can figure that out, we think there’s real power there,” he says.

David Fisch, director of business development at Facebook, will speak at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2011 in a session entitled “What e-retailers need to know about Facebook."

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