Timeline and a Lesson in Consumer Engagement

Despite the recent bad press surrounding f-Commerce together with the ‘sudden’ and ‘forced’ implementation of Facebook’s timeline for pages, ShopIgniter’s offering has now become even more compelling.  Not only has timeline not been an obstacle for ShopIgniter, but has actually enhanced the ShopIgniter offering.

By fully understanding every element of the new timeline, ShopIgniter’s f-Commerce solution caters for each individual feature of the new timeline.  From the cover photo to engaging posts, ShopIgniter’s customized shopping application utilizes every benefit of the new timeline page design.

According to a CMO council study, 79% of fans want to learn about the products offered by brands they’ve liked.  In another study by Simply Measured, there has been a 46% increase in engagement per post since the implementation of timeline.  Content engagement, such as compelling pictures and videos is receiving a 65% engagement increase in comparison to the old design.

For brands looking to sell on Facebook, these are substantial statistics.  Now, product and brand awareness is simpler, more effective and has a higher response rate.  The ability to highlight and draw attention to specific promotions and products can be done using the scalable fan page images and post pinning to keep relevant and important news directly in the vision of the consumer.

The use of stunning imagery, collages and eye-catching promotional banners can enhance the brand and the user experience alike.  By steering the consumer and guiding them through their purchase via imagery, brands will see an increase in sales conversion.

Speaking to Commerce On Facebook, ShopIgniter CMO Kevin Tate stated “We are PCI level 1 compliant.  Security is a big deal for consumers and we’ve made the Facebook shopping experience as safe, if not safer, than dot com shopping sites.”

Unlike competitor f-Commerce providers who have stayed with the ‘catalog on a tab’ approach to consumer engagement, ShopIgniter are bringing the point of purchase to the consumer at the very first moment a consumer engages with an offer, product or promotion.  Timeline tells a story in real time.  Therefore it makes sense for brands to offer time based promotions.  Whether it’s a teaser in advance of a special promotion or a limited offer discount, timeline is now the ideal place for f-Commerce.

The fit between ShopIgniter’s offering and Facebook’s Timeline is a perfect match.  Mobile engagement is on the ShopIgniter 2012 roadmap.  Realizing that the majority of people are using mobile devices, ShopIgniter are ensuring that their brands receive the most up to the minute methods to engage with consumers.   At this point in time, ShopIgniter are definitely pulling away from the rest of the pack to offer a unique and effective product to fulfill the social needs of every brand.

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The Key to Successfully Selling on Facebook

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 SortalPanasonic 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.

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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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An Interview With Enon Landenberg, Publicis E-Dologic

Enon Landenberg, a visionary in the world of advertising, spoke to CommerceOnFacebook.Com. From his darkened room, on the top floor of the Publicis building in Ramat Gan, Israel, he answered questions about how Social Media is changing the rules of engagement between brands and consumers.

In an office that would certainly make Mad Men character Don Draper feel at home, Enon sits surrounded by memorabilia of his career. A shelf displaying all of the awards honored to him and E-Dologic, rapidly running out of space.

As one meeting comes to an end in his office another begins, with a slight overlay and enough time for both parties to be introduced and checkout potential synergies.

As the Chief Interaction Officer of Publicis E-Dologic, Enon is a veteran of the advertising world.
The interview has been broken separated into a series and will be aired over the coming weeks. In this first interview, Enon answered what E-Dologic looks to achieve within the realm of social media, when providing client services.

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ShopIgniter Lights the Path for Social Commerce

Kevin Tate, Newly appointed CMO of ShopIgniter, shared his vision of Social Commerce with CommerceOnFacebook.Com.  ShopIgniter, founded in June 2010, are among the leaders in the realm of Social Commerce.  What separates them from the rest of the pack is their knowledge, experience and understanding of what makes a social consumer.  Admittedly, the hard part is getting brands to understand the importance of social consumer psychology before offering them the unique tools that have been developed by ShopIgniter to really plug-in and engage with social commerce and consumers.

Just last week we wrote that in order to engage with customers, brands need to think about a points system to reward social interactions and direct recommendations.  We called it ‘bonus bragging’.  ShopIgniter have already begun this process which they have released to a handful of their VIP Enabled Stores.  The system which has the ability to score influencers of Social Commerce, is a the first working prototype of a Social Commerce loyalty system, encompassing the following features:

  • Enhance promotions and campaigns reward with points or status
  • Bi-directional rewards to build social equity of customers
  • Trackable with social commerce analytics
  • Shareable via facebook, twitter or email

By identifying and incentivizing the influencers of their brand, retailers will have the ability to create brand evangelists out of their best and most influential customers and thank them accordingly.  The program encourages customers to communicate through experience resulting in driving revenue and not just additional fans.  The ongoing loyalty aspect also separates one-time bargain hunters from long term customers.

Asked what he sees as the biggest obstacles currently facing ShopIgniter, Kevin replied “The level of noise in the market,” meaning that there are so many offerings springing up for Social Commerce solutions, that brands and retailers are getting potentially overwhelmed by choice and not fully understanding which provider would be best for their business.  The danger of this is also lack of knowledge within the realm of Social Commerce and Social Media.  Many companies do not have a “consistent owner of social commerce decisions”.  Larger brands are beginning to understand this and appoint executives in the realm of social media.

Given that ShopIgniter’s target market is large brands, I believe that once the potential of these features is realized, social commerce providers of small and medium sized businesses will begin to emulate and offer similar loyalty and influencer recognition systems.  On a speculative note, maybe the future will see partnerships between enterprise providers such as ShopIgniter and smaller, subscription based social storefront providers.  This would certainly be the fast track in the evolution of the Social Consumer.

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Playground by Qmerce – The Next Generation of Social Engagement

Playground by Qmerce encompasses every element that a brand would need in order to acquire new fans, keep them engaged and convert them to customers. In short, Playground is the missing link between e-Commerce and social shopping.

This is an absolute ‘must have’ for brands setting up stores or other commerce outlets on Facebook as it gives brands all of the missing elements that are taken for granted when going into commerce on Facebook.

Using game design techniques and mechanics to solve problems and engage audiences, commonly known as ‘Gamification’, Playground offers brands customized games which represent the very essence of the brand. The games, which can be completely branded in seconds to give the brand’s look ‘n’ feel, give an immediate added value to the brand’s fans. Additionally, the games themselves give an additional brand awareness that currently does not exist in this format.

The best way to explain this is by example. Brand A, a national restaurant chain, has created a Facebook page to showcase its menu and offer promotions and discounts within a social environment. From word of mouth and from existing customers, Brand A has managed to create a fan base of 1,000 fans. However, Brand A now has the dilemma of how to get these 1,000 fans to spread the word and invite their own personal networks of friends to become fans. Enter Playground by Qmerce. By offering a game with elements such as burgers, buns and other menu items, and encompassing a points system, a leaderboard and the opportunity to play with or against friends, alone or in teams, the Brand has heightened its level of engagement and social interaction. Then add into the equation the ability to win prizes that are redeemable within the land based restaurant such as free meals, discounts, birthday invitations etc with no limit of creative promotions, the Brand is able to see a direct correlation between fans and customers.

And because Playground by Qmerce offers such an array of games, any brand from soccer teams and airlines to department stores and hotel chains could benefit from the Playground fan page application. As this really does put the ‘social’ into social shopping, every social storefront provider should be looking at ways to partner with Qmerce to really leverage the service and advance the marketing efforts of their own storefront clients.

And it doesn’t stop there. Qmerce have opened the gates to any 3rd party game developer and designers who have the ability to upload their own custom games and designs into the Playground server, therefore creating an ecosystem with an endless source of new and innovative games. It is also important to add that Playground by Qmerce can be added as a widget to a website, a Facebook fan page tab application and is also being developed for mobile.

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Store Jumping From Facebook

In a recent survey released by Experian, 7% of all visits to a social media site are followed by a click through to a shopping or classified site.  Considering that 19% of all visits go on to other social networking sites or forums and is the highest group, the figure indicated for shopping and classifieds is quite a substantial figure.  It certainly proves that there is something triggering this 7% jump to shopping and classified sites.

From the sites jumped to from Facebook, it’s certainly no surprise that eBay is the number one visited shopping site after leaving Facebook.  But the fact that NetFlix is the second most popular, is a little surprising.  With companies such as Live Stream and White Square Media sharpening up their Facebook offerings, they should be aware that consumers are going outside of Facebook for movie entertainment and should perhaps be concentrating of ways to keep these users inside Facebook, and using their respective offerings.  QVC the advertising channel also made it into the top 10 list.  Yet another indicator that people surfing Facebook are interested in real, live, visible offers.

Building awareness is the only way that commerce on Facebook can succeed.  Companies with Facebook storefront solutions, should look to celebrity endorsement.  Kim Kardashian currently has around six and a half million Facebook fans.  There is no direct selling from the page and nothing promoting any of her endorsed products.  They have a full Kollection, including women’s fashion, jewelery and lingerie all being sold at Sears.  Why not add video promotions of the merchandise to the Facebook fan page and add a selected number of items that can be purchased within Facebook.  This would increase product sales for the Kardashians, (heaven knows they must need the extra cash), but more importantly would change the mind set of so many people regarding the ability to shop inside Facebook.

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ShopIgniter CEO To Increase Awareness of Social Commerce at OIA Rendezvous

Matt Compton CEO of ShopIgniter is speaking to leading Outdoor Industry brand names in the Rendezvous conference taking place today and tomorrow in Portland, Oregon.  He will be specifically presenting 12 tips for outdoor brands to implement and ignite social commerce programs.

This is a great way to increase awareness by showing real case studies of existing brands successfully executing social commerce programs on Facebook.  Other executives included in the lineup are from companies such as Columbia Sportswear, Patagonia and Timberland.

Right now brands are unsure of the benefits of opening commercial real estate on Facebook.  A hard hitting presentation from key figures in this space is one of the ways to combat this lack of knowledge and general skepticism.  It’s still early days for retail brands selling on Facebook and, as yet, there has been no real proof of success.  However, in the current climate retailers should be looking in every direction to gain additional sales and increase brand exposure.  The mentality of social shopping has prompted conferences such as ‘The Rise of The Social Consumer’.  It is believed to be only a matter of time before shopping on Facebook becomes a billion dollar industry.  Only with events such as these and executives such as Matt Compton standing in front of the correct target audience with real statistics, can the social commerce industry be taken seriously.

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Facebook’s View of Social Commerce

“Retail has always been a social activity from the bazaars and souks of the Middle East to the Tupperware parties of the 1950s, to Top Shop on Oxford Circus where I see groups of girls going to shop together,” stated Gavin Sathianathan head of Commerce Partnerships at Facebook. “It feels like commerce has always been a social activity.”
Internet Retailing published this extract as an appetizer for today’s Internet Retailing 2011 Annual Conference taking place at the Novotel in Central London.

People in the past have always discussed shopping, bargains and planned shopping trips together.  According to Gavin, this is now happening online and in a social environment.  This, he pinpointed, is the reason why shopping and commerce on Facebook will be so successful.

In today’s keynote speech he declared “that while growing the number of fans who follow a brand was important to retailers, the real opportunity for them was in talking to the friends of those fans. The best way to do that is by word of mouth recommendation to friends. Opportunities for retailers to use Facebook to talk to existing and potential customers include sponsoring stories in individuals’ news feeds that can then be broadcast to their network, while brands can also feature in the new Timeline feature, which allows individuals to capture key moments from their lives.”

That’s all well and good and certainly paves the way for merchants to see the potential of selling of Facebook, but doesn’t really go into the specifics of how to drive the initial traffic for small merchants who struggle to build their fan base from scratch.  Bearing in mind, small retailers who are not social savvy and wouldn’t understand the concepts mentioned above, there seems to be a gap in the market place.  Will Facebook also be building an advisory service for merchants wishing to know exactly how to maximize fan pages?  Would existing successful merchants share case studies?  How exactly can a timeline be used to increase sales?  There seems to be a lot of unanswered questions from Facebook after today’s conference.  And even more missing examples of how all of Facebook’s social interactions can truly benefit internet retailers.

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Watch and Shop – Interactive Video Comes to Facebook

An interesting new service has been launched by Whitesquare Media, using a patent pending technology called ‘ME’.

‘ME’ allows video viewers to click on videos and buy what they see from the respective online stores.  For example, while watching a Justin Timberlake music video you happen to like his hat.  Just click on the hat in the video, and the store page displaying the hat pops up ready to be added to the shopping cart.

The videos can be uploaded to Facebook fan pages and Facebook walls.  It’s the latest form of customer engagement for brands trying to gain a foothold into commerce on Facebook.  Any flash video can be used and the ‘ME’ technology is the key element which enables interactivity.

Quoted in a press release, Andrew Incorvia, White Square Media’s CEO stated “We’re the game changer that many have been waiting for and literally we stepped in the ring between Facebook vs. Google +. It’s an exciting and a very bold move!”

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