The retail industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by personalized shopping experience and customer-centric approach, and growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and cloud. In the last three years alone, there have been over 156,000 patents filed and granted in the retail industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Social media in retail: social commerce. Buy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 115,000 patents to analyze innovation intensity for the retail industry, there are 50+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Social commerce is a key innovation area in social media

Social commerce refers to the utilization of social media platforms to facilitate online transactions, connecting businesses and consumers. It seamlessly merges social media with e-commerce, thereby enhancing the shopping experience through interactivity and personalization. This innovative approach leverages the influence of social networks to not only endorse products, but also foster customer engagement and boost sales.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies.  According to GlobalData, there are 30+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established retail companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of social commerce.

Key players in social commerce – a disruptive innovation in the retail industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of applications identified for each patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.   

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of countries each patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.  

Patent volumes related to social commerce

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Meta Platforms 85 Unlock Company Profile
Walmart 16 Unlock Company Profile
AinaCom 15 Unlock Company Profile
eBay 13 Unlock Company Profile
RadiumOne 13 Unlock Company Profile
International Business Machines 13 Unlock Company Profile
Transform SR Brands 11 Unlock Company Profile
Salesforce 9 Unlock Company Profile
The Toronto-Dominion Bank 8 Unlock Company Profile
Snap 6 Unlock Company Profile
Microsoft 5 Unlock Company Profile
Alphabet 5 Unlock Company Profile
Altaba 5 Unlock Company Profile
Fiserv 4 Unlock Company Profile
Ushur 3 Unlock Company Profile
Flipboard 3 Unlock Company Profile
Audiobyte 3 Unlock Company Profile
Bloomz 3 Unlock Company Profile
PayPal 3 Unlock Company Profile
SAP 3 Unlock Company Profile
Tencent 3 Unlock Company Profile 2 Unlock Company Profile
DeNA 2 Unlock Company Profile
E2Interactive 2 Unlock Company Profile
Center'd 2 Unlock Company Profile
RhythmOne 2 Unlock Company Profile
InComm 1 Unlock Company Profile
NCX 1 Unlock Company Profile 1 Unlock Company Profile
Mz Ip 1 Unlock Company Profile
BK 1 Unlock Company Profile
Automattic 1 Unlock Company Profile
First Datacorp 1 Unlock Company Profile
Sendle 1 Unlock Company Profile
Wells Fargo 1 Unlock Company Profile
Nextdoor 1 Unlock Company Profile
SK Telecom 1 Unlock Company Profile
Double Good 1 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Leading patent filers in the social commerce space include Meta Platforms, Walmart, AinaCom, and eBay. Walmart consistently explores and experiments with new channels in social commerce. In September 2022, it introduced the Innovation Partner Program, aimed at strengthening its presence in social commerce. It also established a content creator platform to fortify its foothold in social commerce, actively embracing innovative approaches to engage with its customers.

In terms of application diversity, BK leads the pack, while Alphabet and SK Telecom stand in the second and third positions, respectively.

By geographic reach, AinaCom is the leading company, followed by RadiumOne and Salesforce.  

Social commerce has emerged as a dynamic and essential component of modern retail strategies, reshaping how businesses connect with their audiences and drive sales.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the retail industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Retail.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.