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Wal-Mart Takes Lead in Retail Social Networking

Wal-Mart is pushing ahead of social media-savvy retailers such as Macy’s  and even Amazon and eBay, based on the initiatives it has underway.  The company’s @WalMartLabs is working on a social network for in-store shoppers, Internet Retailer reports.

Consumers would be able to use their mobile phones to interact with other shoppers currently at the store, asking questions and giving opinions on products and deals. "The primary value you’ll get is the community feel," Ravi Raj, vice president of product at @WalMartLabs, told Internet Retailer. That project is still in the beginning stages, the publication says.

Another feature expected to debut this holiday season, however, is Shopycat – a Facebook social gift application. Social gifting is an emerging social media model that is expected to see significant play this holiday season.

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These initiatives follow an announcement the retailer made earlier this month: a partnership with Facebook in which each of its more than 3,500 locations will have its own tailored Facebook page. The partnership is said to be the first of its kind for a retailer.

Wal-Mart Style Analytics

Much of this activity is based on Wal-Mart’s push to develop its own analytics capabilities. Earlier this year, it acquired Kosmix, the developer of Tweetbeat Firsthand — a plug-in that scans the Internet for references to prominent people or organizations that have Twitter accounts and then provides readers of those pages with their latest tweets.

Wal-mart bought the social media company specifically to use its analytical expertise in the @WalmartLabs unit.

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