Off the political topic for a change, let’s take a look at Social Buying. what it means to you and your online buying future. Many many moons ago, there was a little site. it offered a single deal on any given day, with a limited amount of stock at a great price. That poor site was Woot.com. Was it the first, doubt it. Who was? don’t know. Why doesn’t it own the market? Too Geeky. We geeks who still regularly haunt it waiting for our chance to buy a “Bag Of Crap” or 3, told all of our friends about it, but since the items for sale were usually geared to tech-heads such as outselves, our more normal friends never really got into it. But, hey, it’s a good idea and shouldn’t be left to waste, so a bunch more folks got in the game, Groupon, Living Social, Tippr, Spreesy, Thrillist, BuyWithMe, Yipit, AtCost, DealMap, Dealon, and so forth. With the tighening of the economy, deals have become more the expectation in the mind of the consumer, and have driven these sites into the stratosphere. With the constant rumors that Amazon is snuggling up to LivingSocial and that Google wants to pull Groupon into it’s hive collective, we may as well admit that these sites are here to stay for at least the next 5 years or so. Will they prove to be the money-making juggernauts that all those investors hope they are? we don’t know yet. Short term sales bumps for the smaller shops featured especially in the regional sites such as Groupon and Spreesy seem to be the trend but without hard numbers over longer reporting periods, data that these smaller shops are not likely to go through the trouble of producing and publishing, we don’t know if those spurts of business actually give any measurable sustained permanent net gains to their bottom line. SO what’s the point? Well, for the smaller shops, that are more negatively impacted by seasonal business, this is a great way to drive business during what would otherwise be slower periods without the usual large expenses associated with advertising. Sure the profit margin may not be as great, but the increase in volume coupled with the savings in traditional advertising can certainly help defray the cost of salary during slow periods. For the bigger clients, a well placed ad, such as when Gap offered $50 worth of apparel for $25 on Groupon, it resulted in a single-day sales total of over $11 million dollars. and this was with zero, zilch, nada spend in traditional advertising. What a way to clear out some inventory in preparation for the Christmas season!. So.. what is in the immediate future for these sites? Well, LivingSocial and Groupon are guaranteed to stick around for quite a while. Woot has always and will always be where it is, appealing to it’s niche audience where it does well, Tippr, probably has a good amout of room to grow, Spreesy has already changed their model to be more of an aggregator/clearinghouse for some of the other smaller sites and as such has a small enough overhead that it can probably wait out the shakeout that we will see in the next 12-18 months, DealOn,.. Meh, I have a funny feeling that it may be the first of the “top-tier” to fall to the wayside. Yipit is Groupon without the track record and is also in the precarious position of having to go toe-to-toe with foes that have a heck of a lot more financing and as such also better watch that they don’t fall into a war of attrition that they would be fated to lose. Were I to bet, I would guess that the winner will be the first one to market with cross-platform apps that are location-aware and offer coupons using proximity-based criteria and simplified immediate processing of those purchases that do away with the “Buy today but can’t use until tomorrow” flaw with many of the Daily Deal site structures in place right now. We are a mobile society that expects immediate results to an immediate action on the internet and the site that delivers on that first will get to sit on a pretty high chair in what is at the moment a too-crowded room.