Incentivized Pre-Sale Social Sharing by AddShoppers

In short, Add Shoppers™ is a pre-sale solution for e-Commerce providers to incentivize more sales through its unique social sharing technology.  But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  This robust platform gives retailers the opportunity to easily install share buttons which, in turn, offer coupon code incentives to their potential customers.

For example, a retailer logs into the Add Shoppers™ dashboard, selects either the code which fits their e-Commerce shopping platform provider or a custom code, then adds the short java script to their e-Commerce site.  Icons are then displayed showing the coupon amount the potential shopper will receive once they’ve shared the item on either Facebook, Twitter, Email, Pinterest, Kaboodle, Stumble Upon or Google Plus.

Platforms currently supported by the Add Shoppers™ technology include Magento, Volusion, Big Commerce and Shopify.  In an effort to increase sales and virally spread product offerings this really is a no-brainer for both retailers and e-Commerce platforms looking to offer their retail customers additional tools to increase sales.

Add Shoppers™ is a North Carolina based startup led by CEO Jon West.  Speaking to Commerce On Facebook, Jon stated “We just want to make the coolest, best product for retailers.  Our aim is to become the ‘add this’ of e-Commerce”.

Once a potential shopper shares an item, the retailer has access to a whole array of well laid out, easy to read and manage, reports.  The data includes information about the people who are the brands social influencers, which products are being shared, which social networks are producing the best return on investment, social network reach and demographic information including gender and geographic location of the people sharing the brands’ products.

The screenshots below show the dashboard layout and how the retailer would view their social reports:

Additionally, live examples can also be found on Fairway Styles and 3Tailer.

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2012 The Year Social Commerce Will Blow Up

Christian Taylor, CEO and founder of Facebook storefront provider Payvment, recently shared his thoughts for the growth of social commerce in 2012.  Mr Taylor pointed out three ways that ‘taste graphs’ will fuel social commerce.  A taste graph, similar to Facebook’s ‘open graph’ is the specific and personal tastes of a user who is connected to you in a social capacity, whether as a ‘friend’, ‘fan’ or just someone who has subscribed to your Facebook updates or vice versa.

I would like to take this opportunity to expand on these ideas and add my own view to how this may or may not assist with the growth of social commerce.

Social shopping is a formula based on social science.  The study of human behavior and interaction with the direct influence of trend setting, social influencers.  If you’re really looking to see correlation between influencers and purchasing, take someone who averages 20 individual comments per status update.  This person is an influencer within their network of friends.  Now, find five people within this users’ network who share a passion or interest with this user.  Imagine that the shared interest is the clothing line of Ralph Lauren.  Offer the influencer a huge discount on Ralph Lauren merchandise in return for direct access to broadcast to his five friends about his recent Ralph Lauren purchase.  Would any of these five friends make a purchase within Facebook based on these simulated conditions?  Maybe, maybe not, but the thought of purchasing has, without a doubt, been firmly planted within their sub-conscious psyche.

Targeting Deals and Offers based on Interests

Mr Taylor wrote that ‘by mixing my social data with its own data about my general interests, a company’s taste graph can produce deals hyper-targeted to my interests’.  This statement is true but not yet totally possible within the current Facebook environment.  After all, what is considered a user’s interests within Facebook?  Something that the user has ‘liked’ or has added to their list of ‘interests’ within their profile?  Regarding the profile interests, these could be completely incorrect.  A person completes these details once when first opening a Facebook account and rarely updates this information.  As for ‘like’ to represent interests, this is nearer to capturing real information but would also need to be adjusted based on the reason for the ‘like’.  The full study should include the ‘why’ when the user originally ‘liked’ what is seen to be an interest.  This gives a deeper insight into the user’s intention.  For example, the user may have shown an interest based on discount, influence, content or any other reason.  The importance lies in the ‘why’ as opposed to ‘what’.  This is the formula that needs to be followed in order to really capture the attention of new fans.

Shared Passions and Recommendations

Without a doubt a shared passion such as music is a big influencer.  If I share the same taste in music with a friend who I can see just bought a new CD of our favorite artist, I would be tempted to take a look and even to buy the same disc.  But can this be applied to every vertical?  Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a fashion identification application which could distinguish your clothes from your photos and match similar fashions to your friends?  The app would recognize the clothes worn by you in your photographs by style, color, date and season and match them to similar clothes worn by tagged friends.  The app would then know to inform users within the same ‘fashion circle’ whenever a purchase is made by someone within the group.

‘Fashion Circle Plus’ – what a great name for a new Facebook application.  It could also offer the ability to ‘tag’ your clothes within photographs that you upload to Facebook.  Brands can upload latest fashions and styles into the application and users just choose from the pre-defined tags created by the brands or just add the style tags themselves.

Social Commerce Tastemakers

By nature, people follow in the footsteps of well-known personalities and celebrities.  Back in October we wrote that celebrity endorsement is the future of social shopping within Facebook, but now that people can subscribe to personal newsfeeds within Facebook, it brings the whole idea one step closer to reality.  From experience I have seen cases where celebrities feel that they ‘cheapen’ their name when endorsing products for sale on Facebook.  This is yet another mindset challenge for 2012.

The people who should be leading the way with this project are celebrity agents.  After all, product endorsements with revenue from sales are solid revenue models for celebrities.

Summary

In short, I personally believe that 2012 will be the year that Mark Zuckerberg’s statement “If I had to guess, social commerce is next to blow up,” will come to fruition, but it won’t happen without a little more help from Mark and his team at Facebook.

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80 Percent of Internet Users Purchased from a Facebook Store

As an advocate of Social Shopping and f-Commerce, it is always a little disturbing to read misquoted articles that contain statistics which mean absolutely nothing.  It is even more disturbing when the headlines of such articles are actually detrimental to the f-Commerce industry.

The headline in question “More than half of shoppers don’t trust Facebook”, published recently on Internet Retailer.  Now that’s a pretty big claim.  At a first glance it would be easy to assume that thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of people were asked about their concerns regarding the ‘shopping on Facebook’ phenomena.  After all, in full throws of the holiday season, there would be a lot more people around to answer such a question.

However, reading further into the article which was published on December 27th, it becomes apparent that the survey concluding that “More than half of shoppers don’t trust Facebook” was actually conducted almost five months ago, back in August.  The number of shoppers who had responded to the survey was a staggering 722.  Yes, that’s right, 722.  722 people of which 382 people stated a ‘distrust in Facebook shopping’ in August 2011 provoked the headline in December 2011 “More than half of shoppers don’t trust Facebook”.

The original survey which was conducted by ThreatMetrix, an online fraud prevention company gives no details of demographic details or geographic location of the 722 participants.  After reading this I asked five friends if they had ever bought from a Facebook store.  I found out that four of my friends had indeed bought from a store on Facebook.  I quickly concluded, based on the above research principals that 80% of polled Internet Users have purchased from a Facebook store.

On a final note, the article published on Internet Retailer quoted a Mr Alisdair Faulkner, Chief Products Officer at ThreatMetrix.  Mr Faulkner stated “With new account registration, you have [criminals] who will sign up with social networking sites like Facebook in order to gain access to current user information”.  On behalf of CommerceOnFacebook.Com I would like to offer a reward to anyone who actually understands this comment and can explain the relevance of such an absurd quote.  Apart from being a totally random comment, what is the connection between this comment and Facebook stores?  Admittedly anyone can setup a false profile on Facebook and add people as friends.  Depending on security settings would determine which personal information can be viewed by connections and non-connections.  But surely this has absolutely nothing to do with f-Commerce?

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Payvment Offers One Day Deals to ALL Storefront Customers

In a bid to repeat the success of Black Friday, Payvment is offering ALL of their social storefront customers the opportunity to create and offer one day deals which will then showcase on Payvment’s Shopping Mall within Facebook.

Payvment are recommending that sellers offer at least 50% discount on deal items to increase the chances of a sales and create buzz among social shoppers.

The one day discount bonanza will take place on Wednesday December 14th.  This is a FREE promotion to run and is open to Payvment customers at all levels.

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Innovative and Social – f-Commerce by Social Innovations

In the recent words of Facebook’s director of commerce partnerships, “personalization drives engagement” it’s certainly true for the thinking behind Social Innovations. Social Innovations is the latest addition to a long line of f-Commerce platforms. But Social Innovations has dared to go where other applications have faltered.

Social Innovations delves into the interests and likes of a fan which in turn, is able to formulate specific products to display to potential customers and increase the chances of a sale. Within the Facebook environment, where display space is limited, it makes good sense to be able to show a ‘smart display’ of merchandise.

Speaking to Commerce On Facebook, Paul Yates CEO of Online Ventures and newly appointed CEO of Social Innovations stated “This is a true f-Commerce application which is fully customizable to give the brands’ look and feel while maintaining all of the functionality of Facebook’s social aspects.”

Social Innovations Interactive Plugin (SiiP) does not force shoppers into sharing personal details but does recommend that users do so in order to experience the full value of personal engagement of the social shopping experience.

As the founder of Just Search and former CEO of Getupdated, Paul Yates is looking to utilize his extensive contact database to help bring in blue chip clients to get Social Innovations off the ground. Offering an enterprise solution which is customized on a per brand basis, SiiP is able to integrate each custom application seamlessly into the retailer’s payment processors thereby giving customers the full shopping experience inside Facebook.

From a development perspective, Social Innovations are also investigating the possibility of rewarding social influencers. This would complement the existing functionality which allows customers to share details of their purchases to their Facebook wall and newsfeed. This function would certainly increase the viral behavior and extend the social reach of products. The initial pull of fans stands within the ability to offer personalized discount codes and Facebook exclusive content. However, being an enterprise solution will attract brands that, in theory, have a better idea and a bigger budget in order to achieve the initial push needed to launch a successful Facebook store.

In our opinion, Social Innovations is definitely an f-Commerce contender to watch out for in 2012.

The screen shots below are from retro t-shirt site, Truffle Shuffle’s Facebook store, powered by Social Innovations.

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Merry Facebook and a Happy New Everything

In a recent guest post on Forbes, Facebook’s director of commerce partnerships, David Fisch shared some advice for retailers using social media (I’m sure he only meant Facebook) to promote their stores.

In the prelude to the advice he wrote that design flash sales site Fab.Com saw more than 50% of sales during the Black Friday, Cyber Monday extended weekend, from customers who signed up from a social source. Along the same lines outdoor apparel provider, Giantnerd saw their average order soar to 300% more than from orders received via Facebook traffic instead of their website. What it did not mention is if these sales were transacted on their sites on within Facebook.

I won’t repeat the four points, which can be found here, but the bottom line is giving customers access to what they want. And, in cases where they don’t know what they want, tell them what they want. Sounds simple, and it actually is, but one thing that seems to be missing from the article is the basis of customer acquisition for smaller merchants. There have been very little comments made regarding consumer acquisition on Facebook. It’s pretty hard to give someone what they want, when you can’t reach them in the first place.

As the social web grows, less attention is being paid to advertising. Therefore companies who are adding the Facebook Ads api into their social offering are potentially leading their own storefront customers in the wrong direction.

One of the points mentioned by Fisch is “viral”. Quite frankly, anything has the possibility to go viral, but virality on the web is a little bit like a celebrity who is warned never to work with animals or children. So completely unpredictable that the outcome is anyone’s guess. Unless you have a kind benefactor who mentions your name in a Forbes article. Now that’s what I call a holiday season gift.

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Intuit Adds Facebook Stores to e-Commerce Offering

In a bid to extend its reach of e-Commerce products, Intuit is now offering SimpleStore for Facebook.  This offers any current SimpleStore user the opportunity to add a store to their Facebook business page for free.  Intuit’s reasoning behind the addition to their offering is the fact that Americans are spending more than 50 billion minutes a month on Facebook.

Before the decision was made to offer SimpleStore for Facebook, a survey conducted by Intuit concluded that 59% of participants planned to do their holiday shopping online. With these two pieces of compelling data it makes perfect sense for every e-Commerce platform to offer Facebook stores to compliment their existing offering.

An additional benfefit for existing SimpleStore users is the streamlined payment processing using Intuit Web Payment.  This makes it possible for small businesses to be able to accept all major credit and debit cards for payment directly on Facebook.

“In today’s online world, it is more important than ever for small businesses to be where their customers are and this holiday season they have the ability to sell to Facebook’s 800 million users,” said Barry Saik, vice president and general manager of Intuit’s Grow Your Business division. “This tool will allow small businesses to be everywhere at once, capturing online shopping traffic through both their website and Facebook page.”

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Just Tell Me What to Like – An Infographic

Basically, we don’t want to think. We want to be told what to like, what looks good on us, what we should buy and who we should even be friends with. Only over time, from the age of innocence (and it really doesn’t last that long) until thinking independently we discover that unquestionable trust is not always such a good thing. But, on a sub conscious level, our brains tell us who to believe and who is trustworthy. Even if, on occasion, we’re completely wrong which only ends in regret.

In this interesting and amusing infographic produced but the team at Tab Juice, they have broken down the psychology of Social Commerce and have clearly defined the rule. “When uncertain, look at what others are doing.” Which really is the underlying characteristic of a social network and probably the reason for its success.

Additionally, the data used in the infographic, although unverified, is also very insightful. The fact that 77% of online shoppers use reviews and Facebook is the easiest medium for receiving and having access to such reviews, should indicate how successful social commerce should be. Even if it isn’t right now.

As we approach the holiday season I can truly associate with the ‘less is more’ section of the infographic. Ever since childhood there was always a specific item, whether a toy, game, computer that is always hyped up for the holiday season. Usually three weeks before the holiday season begins, the item is ‘Sold Out’. Miraculously it reappears a week before the holiday season and the sales of this item sky rocket.

And the final take out of this illustration is that 25 billion pieces of information are shared on Facebook. Which begs the question, with all this information being shared, does anyone have time to do anything anymore?

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Facebook Getting Ready To Allow Real Money Gambling Apps

There has been speculation over the last few days that Facebook are looking into real money online gambling applications within Facebook. The rumors, first started by eGaming Review and followed up by ZDNet, state that Facebook want to open up their platform for real online gambling as soon as the first quarter in 2012 for the UK market.

According to the report, Facebook is looking to hand out eight licenses for real money gambling activities within the Facebook platform. Obviously these licenses would only go to regulated online gaming companies. According to the EGR report, 888 and Gamesys are among the shortlist of candidates currently being considered by Facebook.

The move would see a swift change in mindset to users of the social network. Up until now there have been many debates regarding the value of potential real money players within Facebook. Debates in the past held at online gaming conferences have always been critical of applications such as Zynga Poker. Even now it is still unknown if Zynga will ever offer real money gaming to its players and how many of those players would actually make a real deposit to play online. If Facebook will become a new venue for real money online gaming would online gambling be renamed Facebook gambling?

Additionally, how would security measures to protect underage participation be enforced apart from trusting the information given by Facebook users when entering personal details? And how would payment be made? Would Facebook insist on the gambling operators using Facebook credits? At first this seems unfair as Facebook take 30% from the sale of Facebook credits, but is it really so unreasonable? Gaming operators pay processing fees to credit card companies and electronic wallet operators, so why not Facebook? Especially if Facebook assisted in the promotion of these applications and acted in the same way an affiliate would drive traffic to the gaming site. After all, in the same way that affiliates receive payment, Facebook are also only receiving payment based on success.

Whichever brands do end up having the right to operate real money gambling within Facebook, (personally I believe it is just a matter of time), there is a big question of acquisition and retention for social gaming. As discussed in previous posts on CommerceOnFacebook.Com, a great deal of thought needs to be given to the psychology of social consumers. This ‘new age’ of gamblers will not find your social gambling application from a web search. They will find you from their friends and the people who influence their decisions. This is the starting point that any online gambling operator needs to be focusing on prior to launching any social gambling application.

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What is driving the growth in social commerce?

Social commerce continues to see tremendous growth, with the majority of businesses implementing social commerce initiatives. These vary from experimentation with the addition of simple social sharing buttons on their existing e-commerce store, through to fully fledged stores hosted within Facebook. In addition, the majority of those businesses who do not yet have a social commerce strategy are considering establishing one.

Shopping is an inherently social activity. People seek out recommendations for products and services, share their favourite brands, and regularly undertake shopping trips with friends and family. This activity is increasingly carried out online, specifically within social networks. Businesses are understandably excited about the opportunity that these social interactions provide.

There is a wealth of data insights that point to the potential of social commerce. Some of the observations and trends that are driving the continued growth of social commerce are:

  • The continued growth of social media as a channel, both in terms of the number of people participating, and the amount of time devoted to social media by Internet users makes it an extremely attractive channel.
  • People report that recommendations from friends and family, and even from strangers are far more influential than advertising in their decisions about which products to purchase.
  • The reason cited by consumers for connecting with a brand on Facebook is for discounts/deals, so merchants and brands providing access to products and the latest deals within Facebook makes sense.
  • The majority of people use two or more sources of product information before purchasing. Having a social commerce presence provides an additional channel to capture those consumers that are engaging in product search.

Another reason that social commerce is growing is that it is now easier and more affordable than ever to provide a rich social commerce experience. With the Wishpond GoSocial Store solution, businesses are able to expose their entire product catalogue to their Facebook fans with less than an hours work. They can import hundreds of products automatically from their existing e-commerce website, Shopify, Google Merchant Center, eBay, QuickBooks, or even their Retail Pro retail management system. For those that don’t have their data in electronic form, they can easily add products manually with a handy utility that auto-fills all the product information for the retailer. Their product inventory is kept up to date with the external source automatically, meaning that their Facebook store does not require ongoing management.

Many merchants are taking advantage of this lower barrier to entry by creating and experimenting with a Facebook store.

Two great examples of businesses who have implemented the Wishpond GoSocial Store solution are UrShuz, an innovative shoe brand, and Salt Life, a lifestyle clothing brand. They are both using Facebook to drive traffic back to their e-commerce sites. Their fans are sharing and discussing their products with friends, driving interaction with the brand on Facebook. Both have implemented the ‘fan-gating’ feature, which requires users to like their page before being shown exclusive content or deals within the store giving users a reason to like their page.

While it is too soon to draw concrete conclusions from their efforts, preliminary results look promising. Both have experienced a significant growth in fans, and an increase in the level of engagement and interaction with their fan pages.

Time spent on social networks and the amount of information shared during this time is showing few signs of slowing. At the same time the social commerce tool box is increasingly effective as we learn through experimentation. Together, these things mean we are unlikely to see social commerce growth slow any time soon. If your brand is one of those who has yet to begin testing integrated social commerce solutions there has been no better time to GoSocial with your own Facebook storefront than right now.

This guest article was written by Duncan Blair, Director of Marketing at Wishpond.

About Wishpond
Wishpond is a local shopping platform which helps online shoppers find the products they want from retailers near them. Wishpond.com is one of the largest local shopping sites with over 17 million product listings from small, medium and national retailers. Wishpond also helps retailers and brands publish their product inventory in the places where customers are looking, like Facebook, through their GoSocial Store solution.

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