It’s pretty hard to have a conversation about Social Commerce that doesn’t, at some point, get around to BazaarVoice. So we were especially pleased that BazaarVoice CEO Stephen Collins was able to join us for the Social Commerce Summit to share some of his thoughts on the future of online business.

Stephen is a relatively new CEO (since November of 2012), but he came into the role from the CFO slot (Stephen jokingly observed, “I know how to make up numbers”).  His background has featured deep experience in developing and rapidly-growing markets.  He entered the technology industry in 1997 as a member of the leadership team during the start-up and explosive growth phase at DoubleClick, Inc. (acquired by Google for $3.1 billion in 2007). During his career in technology, Stephen has held the titles of CFO, CIO, COO, and CEO – which speaks well of his ability to lead all aspects of his company’s business.

Some key takeaways from Stephen’s talk:

  • For too long, retailers have focused on the actual transaction of the purchase, and haven’t made enough of an effort to understand what leads up to – and influences – that purchase. as a result;
  • Reviews are ASSETS – they have intrinsic value just like buildings and equipment.
  • The driving equation for BazaarVoice looks like this: Content (Reviews/Data) X Audience (Network) X Utility (technology/platform)

Even though BazaarVoice itself is all about the Utility component of that equation, Stephen feels that it’s actually the least valuable part of the equation for a retailer. “What we’re providing is essentially an huge online mall, in which we’re tracking over 400 million shoppers.  We’re helping our customers to attune to the behavior of people engaging with a brand before they buy anything.”  That allows BazaarVoice to have an unparalleled view of the “path to purchase” for all kinds of customers – the kind of insights that allow their retailers to capture the attention of the right people, at the right stage in their purchase decision … and they can do it as it’s happening.  Social Commerce indeed!