The internet has always been about competition. I'm the Foursquare Mayor of this kebab shop. Her cute kittens blog just jumped up 1,000 places in the Alexa rankings. 934 unread emails have arrived in your inbox over the weekend (yeah, we know - painfully true). And these things have massively benefitted the bewildering growth of the 'net.
But the one aspect of the internet which hasn't - until now - profited by man's inherent need to compete is shopping. Don't get me wrong - we all like to brag about how we bought our house for £Xk less than the asking price, or how we jumped in and 'won' an auction seconds before it closed. But there's only ever one winner in those scenarios. Competition (until now) has never helped promote growth; it's never benefitted the masses.
That's going to change in 2013.
Up until now, when you said "social commerce" people would think "f-commerce" and remember those terrible store-fronts bolted onto brands' Facebook Pages. Now, there's nothing wrong with aspiring to sell to a billion people on Facebook but, if you're going to distract people from chewing the fat (gnashing the gristle?) with their friends, you need to make shopping a whole lot more entertaining. And the best way to do that is to introduce a gaming element, a sense of competition, a bit of fun.
By introducing just such a gaming element into their social shopfronts (such as the one built into our Facebook-friendly Price Drop model), brands will actively incentivise people to share offers with their friends - blurring the boundaries between contests and commerce. Then, once their friends all turn up to join in, vendors will be able to offer this new pool of potential customers a communal bulk-buy discount to seal the deal. Gamification drives competition, which drives traffic, which drives value, which drives custom - the perfect ecosystem for social commerce.
So look out for transactional gamification over the coming months - it's not just about collecting Foursquare Mayoral badges anymore. It's about winning prizes, saving money and oiling the wheels of commerce. And that's where things get really interesting...