Imagine you’re a brand. You want to have direct contact with the people who buy your products. You want to know what they want. How much they are prepared to pay for your products. And who is recommending your products. You want to identify your brand advocates and ambassadors and reward them accordingly. You also want to be up-to-date with buying trends and therefore offer group deals and even customer initiated group deals. All of this is now possible, but only in one place.
As a brand, selling directly and maintaining a direct channel of communication with your customers may seem a little alien. It may also conflict with your distributors. But what if you can give each and every distributor their own online channel of social communication and the ability to sell your products directly from this channel? As a brand working with distributors you need to be able to set revenue percentages for sales and give your distributors an interface to view sales and commissions.
This is exactly what Panasonic Israel has done using the f-Commerce platform developed and supplied by Sortal. Panasonic Israel has over 25,500 fans on Facebook. Therefore, from a common sense point of view, it’s just logical to be able to interact, learn a little and reward the consumers following the Panasonic brand in the Israeli market. On top of that, Panasonic distributors also have exactly the same tools to utilize and leverage the power of selling on Facebook. This is already being used by Future Audio Video Ltd, a smaller distributor who is now able to sell Panasonic products directly within Facebook.
Up until now, Sortal have been quietly, but confidently developing their f-Commerce solution. After signing up a number of high profile clients within the Israeli market in 2011, Sortal are set to offer and promote their fully tuned solution to the rest of the world in 2012.
Sortal’s model is geared towards enterprise clients. Each customer receives their own custom made, separately hosted application. Built using the solid foundation of e-Commerce platform Magento, Sortal’s model is simple and focused. They are looking at working with clients who have already budgeted for selling in Facebook and understand that uploading a few products to a fan page in the hope that items will sell themselves is not the way that commerce on Facebook will work. Sortal clients must be serious about social media.
Sortal offer features that can already be found in the marketplace such as:
- Group Offers
- Offline Coupons
- Purchasing Within Facebook
They also offer features that have yet to be seen or completely utilized within the social shopping stratosphere:
- Full featured social loyalty program, including a points system for identifying brand ambassadors
- Unlimited stores for distributors / affiliates based on Brand’s partners and resellers
- Gifting – where the recipient is prompted to complete address details
- Customer initiated group offers
- Bargaining – which allows customers to name their own price for items
Additionally, being built around the Magento e-Commerce platform, all Magento functionality can be found within the Sortal Facebook store. These features include:
- Full account dashboard for customers and merchants
- Ability to capture emails and send newsletters
- Run in-store polls
- Customer wish lists
If f-Commerce has been slow in 2011, part of the problem has been too many providers offering instant solutions to sell within Facebook, but not defining the methods. The true success of f-Commerce depends on the actual selling within Facebook. Selling in Facebook is not rocket science, but it is different to conventional online retailing. Customers do not currently go to Facebook to make purchases. However, given access to exclusive rewards and the chance to directly communicate with their favorite brands and retailers, will see the trust and purchase levels increase. Cleverly implemented loyalty programs will keep customers returning and increase the conversion rates on sales. Brands and retailers, whether big or small, who understand the importance of the investment in terms of both time and money in social media, will be among the first to experience success with social shopping on Facebook. In short, brands who are able to listen to their customers and respond accordingly, will succeed.
- 2012 The Year Social Commerce Will Blow Up (commerceonfacebook.com)