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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Changes to Facebook Pages Sees Another Setback to Retail Brands Selling on Facebook

After implementing timeline for fan pages Facebook has yet again changed the playing field in the way that brands interact with customers through their branded Facebook fan pages.

The ability to set a default landing tab will affect retailers who are using fan page apps such as Payvment and ShopTab in order to sell directly from their pages.

Small to medium sized retailers, who have already had little luck selling in Facebook with little, if any, marketing budgets will be hit the hardest by this move.  As reported a little while ago by CommerceOnFacebook, it will be the enterprise solutions of retail applications who will benefit the most from this change.

Companies such as 8th Bridge, ShopIgniter and Sortal who offer both customized solutions and the correct tools for successful marketing will now pull away from the crowd.  ‘Off the shelf’ solutions which rely on the merchant to find their own marketing success, will see a continued decline in signups and subscription cancellations.  Smaller storefront providers will probably begin to shut their own doors or change their Facebook applications completely.

Due to the most recent changes, not only the ability to set the default landing tab has changed.  The size of the canvas has increased which means that subscription based storefront providers will need to move fast to keep up with the development changes.

Fan pages will have the same timeline format as personal pages.  The picture at the top of the screen displayed on the default landing tab will not have the ability to link anywhere, display pricing information or have any clickable call to action.  Developers of fan page storefront applications must now offer retail customers solutions which entice shoppers to enter the storefront.  This is yet another click away from the reach of customers, who have already displayed a lack of interest in shopping on Facebook.

Below is the new layout of the Walmart Facebook fan page after the switch to the new timeline.

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Future Predictions for Facebook Commerce

More businesses are realizing the importance of social interaction and engagement on Facebook. Some are even using social storefront providers such as Payvment and ShopTab to display and sell their products. However, one thing that small to medium sized businesses (SMB’s) are not realizing, is the importance of resource allocation and marketing budget in order to effectively execute their social strategy, if they actually have a strategy.

The social storefront providers do not seem to be doing enough to make SMB’s understand the importance of their overall strategy once they launch. Instead it is becoming a numbers game in the competition for brand share. Over time however, this will only be detrimental to the f-commerce landscape. Stores will open on Facebook in the belief that placing their products will generate sales. Without the right strategy, engagement and interaction, they will find disappointment and be discouraged to continue paying monthly fees to display their products. The customers of free social storefront providers will simply abandon the day to day maintenance of their stores.

In order to combat this, there needs to be more emphasis on helping retailers truly understand the task at hand. Enterprise solution providers such as ShopIgniter and 8th Bridge will continue to grow. When a large brand decides to invest a substantial amount of capital on an enterprise solution, there is a fair assumption that they will also invest the time, effort and money to develop a complete strategy. This is where smaller businesses will initially fail due to lack of resource, money and understanding of social commerce.

Currently there are few SMB storefront providers, offering their customers the analytics to understand the effectiveness of social media. How many SMB storefront providers can boast that retailers have the data at their fingertips to see which products were shared, how many times and by whom? Additionally, how many new fans of their brand became fans by shared recommendation? From their fan base, how many people are likely to share, recommend or ask advice about their products?

As social commerce evolves I believe that SMB storefront providers will either, develop analytics to incorporate crucial data or partner with companies such as Hoot Suite in order integrate pre-developed analytic systems into their offerings. I also believe there will be a rise in Social Commerce consulting agencies to bridge the gap between social storefront providers and small to medium sized businesses that are not knowledgeable within this ‘new’ arena.

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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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ShopIgniter Adds Features to Increase Sales Conversion and Manage Stock

As the experience of social shopping inside Facebook grows, Facebook storefront provider, ShopIgniter have announced the launch of two key new features.

The first is a feature that is currently only offered by few of the social storefront  providers, but is becoming a requested feature of many brands looking to open stores inside Facebook.  In-stream purchasing is ideal for retailers to highlight items within their Fans newsfeeds which gives them the opportunity to purchase directly from the feed.  It’s a great way to promote individual products and promotions.

The second feature, an add-on to the in-stream purchasing, is an intelligent inventory control mechanism.  This means that once the in-stream purchasing mechanism has been implemented, merchants can display timely and dynamic product inventory information, such as remaining item quantity and, in the event of no remaining stock of the specific item, will suggest alternative items to the shopper.

The result of in-stream purchasing  is a higher purchase conversion level.  ShopIgniter offer the in-stream purchasing either as a standalone tool for merchants for items such as daily deals or flash sales and can also be used as part of the ShopIgniter social storefront.  This technology brings products one step closer to the consumer without the need for the consumer to enter the Facebook fan page tab.  This is the equivalent of Macys bringing individual items onto the streets of New York for immediate purchase.

“In-stream checkout gives brands and retailers a competitive sales edge, especially when integrated with other merchandising and promotional capabilities of the ShopIgniter platform,” stated Alan Wizemann, chief product officer at ShopIgniter.  “The newsfeed is an excellent channel to offer impulse products, time or inventory limited items or highly desirable promotional products.”

Shanelle Brown, director of eCommerce and digital media at Kaenon Polarized said “Offering curated collections along with dynamic product content , and a quick and easy in-stream checkout, will transform our Facebook presence into a true commerce and product promotion channel.”

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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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