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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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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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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Where Is Social Commerce Heading To?

The following artice was written by Lauren Green, InstanteStore.

With all the buzz about social commerce, you’d wonder whether any of it is actually going anywhere? While there are quite a number of service providers that help merchants set up an online store and provide powerful features for them to upload their products to Facebook, are these merchants actually seeing an increase in sales?

The Bright Side Of Things

Let’s look at the positive side on where social commerce is heading to. With Facebook’s continuous growth, many businesses are keen to promote their stuff there. And with it’s user-friendly interface, merchants will find it easier to communicate with customers directly and vice versa. So positive interaction will help your business grow as customers spread the word about your store to their other Facebook friends. And if your products happen to get a lot of ‘Likes’, that’s also a plus point giving people more reason to explore your store and products further. Interested customers now have the option to complete the entire payment process within Facebook or be routed back to your store to have it done there. Convenience is the key here. In fact, we have several merchants who are having a blast selling their products on Facebook with our Social Shop. Check out their sites listed below and see how real they are when interacting with customers. You could probably learn a thing or two from them on how they have their Facebook and online store set up.

The Latest News And How It Will Affect Your Business?

Just got news that Facebook will be collaborating with eBay to offer their 850 million members a more powerful social commerce and shopping platform. Pretty soon, customers will not only have the option to ‘Like’ a product but be able to ‘buy’, ‘own’, ‘want’, ‘recommend’ or ‘review’ them according to Katie Mitic, Facebook’s director of platform and mobile marketing in her recent presentation last month. For buyers and users, this makes it more exciting as they will be able to share their product stories. For merchants out there, they need to ensure that their products are able to meet customer’s expectations since word-of-mouth could easily spread over social networks at break neck speed. Many merchants will need to work on offering better products and improving their customer service. In short, to be able to provide a better shopping experience to customers.

Poised For Growth

Social commerce is going to continue growing since people are now more technologically savvy. People want information fast. They want better service. When they surf the net, they know what they are looking for. And being sociable creatures we humans are, we like to spread the word around when we find something good. An awesome product, a heavily discounted item, super customer service experience, the latest product to hit the market. Emails take too long to compose these days. It’s so much faster to put it on Facebook or send out a twit with Twitter. The new shopping experience will be riding more on people’s recommendations which carries more weight compared to a shop or business doing their conventional marketing.

Don’t Be Left Out

So don’t be left out in the wake of all these new developments that are taking place. Stay up to date with the current news and provide constant feedback to your service providers on how they can improve their product to help you sell more. Believe me, they’ll thank you for it. Bear in mind that your focus should still be working on your own online site while having a store on Facebook will help spread the word around quicker if done right. Learn from some of the more successful companies that have done well in the social commerce arena and see how you can use that to improve your own business. Happy selling!

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Social Store by 3Dsellers

Social Store by 3Dsellers.com

The answers were provided by Shiran Kleiderman, co-founder 3DSellers.

1. What is the format that merchants can upload their product catalogs to their Facebook store?

Any eBay merchant can subscribe to “Social Store” via the eBay App Center. Social Store then takes the merchant’s eBay items and places them on a Facebook business / fan page.

2. Can this be an automated upload?

The process is automated. Moreover, the two stores (eBay and Facebook) are synced.

3. Do you give merchants the ability to run group offers from their Facebook store?

The current version of Social Store only embeds the different auction and fixed price eBay items on the merchant’s Facebook page.

4. Can stores be setup to enable shoppers to checkout within Facebook?

Not at this time, due to the fact that the actual buying is done on eBay.

5. Can stores be setup to enable shoppers to checkout and redirect to the merchants’ webstore?

We offer customized services for the app. An eBay merchant can contact us and we’ll customize the process.

6. Is it possible to search the entire product catalog within Facebook?

Yes, this will be available in the next version of the app.

7. What is your pricing model?

The app is $0.95 per month. Customized white label services for external webstores start at a fixed price of $49.

8. Do you enable 3rd party integrations? For example Magento / e-Bay etc?

Yes, at the current time, the app is mainly for eBay merchants. Next versions will also support Amazon, Magento, etc.

9. What is the level of social interaction on the product catalog? For example share/like/rate/comment etc.

The app displays “Like” buttons on each eBay item. Moreover, the app helps the merchant drive traffic from his Facebook page to eBay.

10. Do you offer any tools for merchants to promote their Facebook storefronts?

The merchant can share his Facebook page, this being a kind of business card.

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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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