April 7, 2014, 11:32 AM

E-commerce services firm Fluid acquires social commerce technology vendor 8thBridge

The move will bolster Fluid’s ability to offer online retailers a broader range of social commerce tools including social login, curation and analytics.

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Digital design and development firm Fluid Inc., which helps retailers improve their e-commerce, mobile and social offerings, has acquired 8thBridge Inc.

8thBridge works with retailers like Toys ‘R’ Us Inc. to market themselves through online social networks. By giving shoppers social-oriented tools—for instance, it offers a feature that lets shoppers place items in Pinterest-like “boards”—the vendor encourages shoppers to sign into one of their social media accounts, which helps retailers gather data about their customers. For example, the demographic information Deb Shops gathers from consumers who give it access to their Facebook information enabled the retailer to learn that its plus-size and shoe and accessories-buying customers were typically older than its junior customers, because those styles skew older.

The deal, announced today, will enable Fluid to offer online retailers a broader range of social commerce tools, including social login, curation and analytics, the vendor says.

“Our platform and social expertise plus Fluid’s digital shopping software and strategic services means brands will have cutting-edge shopping solutions to fit their needs,” says Wade Gerten, 8thBridge CEO.

Fluid says that 8thBridge will expand the tools its retail clients can use.

“Fluid thrives on helping retailers find new ways to connect with their customer base and provide engaging, compelling experiences that turn shoppers into buyers," says Kent Deverell, Fluid CEO. "8thBridge has a strong track record of delivering innovative Social CRM solutions that connect shoppers to each other, which build community and content around brands and products, and that help drive an unparalleled level of customer insight through the social analytics technology."

The deal came about after Deverall and Gerten met a few months ago at an IBM Corp. event focused around IBM’s efforts to find practical uses for its Jeopardy-winning cognitive science computer Watson. At the event, Fluid was demonstrating its Watson-powered app, called the Fluid Expert Personal Shopper, that aims to help retailers offer better product suggestions.

“Kent and I got to talking and we realized we shared the same vision for creating a new ‘experience layer’ for e-commerce,” Gerten says.

Moreover, Fluid had previously raised $24 million from Goldman Sachs Investment Partners that it planned to use to grow its software business, while 8thBridge was just beginning a new funding round. “We decided it made a ton of sense to join forces,” Gerten says.

Fluid will operate 8thBridge as a separate business for a “little while,” Gerten says. Eventually Fluid plans to integrate 8thBridge’s tools into the services it offers its retail clients. 

The move is the latest sign that vendors recognize that marketers are moving toward integrating social elements and consumers’ social identities into their overall marketing mix, says Andrew Jones, an analyst at Altimeter Group.

“We're seeing consumers’ social identities be used to create more relevant, personal experiences,” he says. “Social is being integrated to improve the existing shopping experience, rather than trying to create a new primary sales channel.”

Neither company disclosed the deal’s terms.

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