Electronic markets are intrinsically social environments. Virtual marketplaces, populated by avatars and objects representing market players (both people and software agents), enable the observation and measurement of behaviours that is difficult (if not impossible) to perform in physical market environments. This paper presents the conceptual framework of the virtual market place - an electronic trading environment that amalgamates the representations of market players, supporting actors (e.g. information bots, data mining agents), product representations, transaction and communication systems, tools for accessing and presenting all contextual information - all of which support market operations. The paper discusses the design of the data sets collected in such environment that will enable the analysis and investigation of emerging business networks between the players, the data mining techniques that can be applied and the outcomes. Incorporating these techniques in the electronic trading environment can lead to electronic markets, which support the discovery of innovative business transactions.