What if opening a store was as easy as embedding a youtube video?

The idea that social commerce is the next big thing in marketing has been floating around for a while. K5 Advisors-backed startup Sellaround think that it’s inevitably the “next big thing”. The Stuttgart headquartered company allows its clients to create social selling widgets that can be embedded essentially anywhere across the social web, making them a portable mini-shop.

The key to this widget idea is that the purchasing process is incredibly simple. Since Sellaround partnered with PayPal earlier this year, buyers in essence pick and pay with a few clicks directly in the widget. It’s as quick and easy as online shopping has to be to get the attention of browsing users.

From a seller aspect simplicity strikes a chord as well. To build a widget sellers use an uncomplicated widget wizard. After picking whether you are using it for B2B or C2C product, you can edit the product details, shipping information and pricing, add a few pictures and you are ready to go. I made this in less than two minutes:

I would post the actual widget and not just a picture, but I’d be in trouble if someone actually tried to order.

The widget wizard does not allow for much creativity from the user’s side, seeing as the style is static. That makes standing out with your product difficult, unless you have an especially eye-catching picture to add. The widgets look quite basic, but they’re pretty and not over-the-top flashy, thus not disturbing the browsing experience.

What’s very smart about this is that the Java/Flash built widget can be embedded just like a youtube video. This makes it usable across multiple platforms from your personal website over Facebook to Google+. Almost like having a portable little shop you can take anywhere you want.

But where does the social aspect come in? First of all, the widgets are easy to share by users on social networks. That’s not exactly a new idea. What adds a little something is that the seller can choose to offer rewards to customers who share the product. By unlocking a special deal, coupon or discount, for example, with a certain amount of shares. Or by using Sellaround’s “crowdsaving” widget type, which activates a deal for everyone as soon as the widget was shared by enough people.

That’s a pretty good idea. We all love rewards and there’s nothing easier than doing a few clicks on the Facebook share button. The seller in return gets the valuable friend to friend recommendation advantage, which is as a rule more effective than impersonal advertising.

When Sellaround’s CEOs Adrian Thoma and Felix von Kunhardt (who recently joined the company after leaving eBay) spoke to TechCrunch, they were convinced that exactly this sharing aspect makes social commerce the “next evolutionary step” in online marketing. “It has to be successful. The reach of social networks increases day by day,” said Adrian. Felix added, “[Social commerce] uses the additional dimension of relationships to friends, influencing your purchase behaviour very strongly. If you think back to the evolution of e-commerce, I believe that social commerce is the next evolutionary step and will be done in a much shorter timeframe.”

When asked about whether the big brands understand this concept yet, Adrian and Felix answered with a conjoint “no”. However, they added, big brands are “just about to realise that something is happening”. That might be why Sellaround also offers a guidance service on building social commerce campaigns.

For now the widget idea works nicely to push single products, especially because it is simple enough to allow essentially everyone to be a seller. All you need is a PayPal account and something to sell. Private sellers automatically have instant reach to the online community they are connected to and are able to turn that into a platform full off potential customers, which is constantly widened by their acquaintances sharing the widget.

If people get used to the new way of shopping right inside their social networks, which means becoming reliant on fast, on the spot purchasing based on recommendations by friends, then this may have a huge impact on the way we shop online.