Businesses and independent retailers have a legitimate place on Facebook. With an unimaginable 600 million members and a more routinely visited website than Google, Facebook promises more than friend requests and fan bases, but also acts as a marketing tool to access the millions of shoppers that login on a daily basis. Yet after two years of research, Forrester and Shop.org have revealed a lack of return on investment (ROI) for those retailers investing in fcommerce. Simply, Facebook appears to be a waste of independent retailer resources. However, as Facebook is less than a decade old and continuously evolving, it is safe to say that many of its features and benefits are still in their experimental stages. Learned best practices and real life applications have the potential to provide retailers with the knowledge they need to make Facebook a profitable platform for web branding, marketing and advertising.
Gigya, Software as a Service (SaaS) technology company, integrating online businesses and social networks, recently released a white paper on the three best practices to ensure expected ROI from Facebook. The goal is to create a customer experience that reflects your brand, and Gigya’s researchers believe this is possible with the following practices:
1) Integrate Facebook features into your website design. You don’t necessarily need to send your customers away to be social.
2) Incorporate ecommerce and social best practices both on your site and on Facebook.com. Keep the browsing and shopping experience consistent on both sites, making the customer feel as if they are viewing an extension of your company website.
3) Close the loop to enable seamless shopping. Understand the power of the “Like” button. So what if online viewers like your product and they’ve let everyone know on their Facebook wall? The important question: did they buy the product? If you are looking to make money, this is the question you have to answer.
If you are just beginning your fcommerce journey, don’t be discouraged by research studies broadcasting Facebook efforts as a big waste of time. Learn from the best. For some retailers, Facebook use has become one of their most profitable ventures. Take for instance, Ulla Popken, a women’s plus size apparel retailer, which has taken the Facebook community by storm. Creating a Facebook page about six months ago with a few simple promotions, Ulla Popken has since launched heavy promotion of its page, boosting its fanship from 600 followers to 2,800 fans. However, Ulla Popken isn’t just looking for fans, but shoppers, and has decided to eliminate the line between the two with the new MarketLive Social Store for Facebook. According to InternetRetailer.com, “The social Store technology will allow Ulla Popken to automatically add new products, images and descriptions to its Facebook store, as it adds them to its main ecommerce site.”
If you want to start on a lesser scale, begin as Global Imports did, a wholesale supplier of ladies’ intimate wear and fashion jewelry, which has found that social media and specifically, Facebook, is an effective means for any web wholesaler to interact with customers. According to Lillian Mo, VP of marketing for Global Imports, the company sells over 400,000 pairs of women’s underwear each year. Purchasing customers are driven to complete the sale by accessing special deals and promotions via the organization’s Facebook Business Page.