Mashalot – the first integrated social online marketplace?

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Guest Post by: Jo Stratmann

Today sees the US-based launch of Mashalot –  a site that has been termed as the “the first online marketplace embedded in social media”.

Launched in beta today in Minneapolis St Paul, the plan is to launch Mashalot nationally in early March 2012 at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.

Fully integrated with Facebook, Mashalot helps businesses grow their fan base while allowing consumers to leverage their own social networks (Facebook in essence) to save money on products and services.

Aimed at businesses who want to cut their spend on advertising, or small businesses with limited advertising spend but a real need to drive word of mouth to build their customer base, Mashalot works by encouraging consumers (or “Mashers” as they are known) to use their social media influence to gain special pricing from participating Mashalot businesses. ”Mega-Mashers” are those who gain followers and can greatly influence pricing and promotions within the Mashalot marketplace.

A transaction in the marketplace is called a “Mash”. Mashes can be created by a business transaction that drives specific promotions, or with a consumer-driven price request from an individual or group of Mashers. Mashers may also request a competitive “Mash Your Price” from non-participating businesses; the business will then be contacted by Mashalot who will try to negotiate the transaction.

The Mashalot platform also allows businesses to advertise and each  ad is available for five days. All promotions are pre-approved to meet Mashalot advertising guidelines. Businesses are charged no upfront fee to participate in Mashalot and revenue for the company is 100% commission-based.

Several Minneapolis-St Paul have already signed up to Mashalot, including restaurants, hotels and a local car dealership.

Having had a quick look around the site, it definitely still feels as though Mashalot is still in beta stage, as it’s quite sparse in terms of content and users. As a social commerce platform that claims to be fully integrated with Facebook’s social graph, while also using the group buying and influencers concept of other social media, it will be interesting to see if Mashalot can take off when rolled out nationally and then internationally.

Either way, Mashalot may be of interest, as a concept if nothing else,  for retailers who are trying to use multichannel effectively.

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