A new and notable social commerce experiment is about to launch on Facebook. Starting tomorrow, The Limited will enable their fans to purchase products directly from their news stream. This will enable The Limited to push unique offers and products into their Facebook fans’ news feeds from which their fans can transact with The Limited while never having to jump off to their commerce site to convert. The feature is called “Off The Wall” since the fan will be interacting through their wall on Facebook.
And while many will argue that Facebook users are only marginally interested in connecting with brands on Facebook, our research shows that 14% of consumers have become a fan of a brand, product or company they like on a social network like Facebook (1). While these fans are difficult for many eCommerce brands/sites to activate, I have recently been hearing of some leading consumer brands which focus on the teen and college market that report Facebook as their top converting traffic source apart from email. Off The Wall represents an interesting and promising experiment in activating this fan base, and presents a reason to become a fan in the first place.
Soon we may be seeing brands offering unique products, private sales, and special sneak peeks to their “social networks” together with the ability to convert them from within the network. Add in contextual marketing and personalization in the future and things could get real interesting real fast — while potentially pushing the boundaries of privacy and security concerns.
Resource Interactive, known as a leading eCommerce-focused interactive design agency, is the firm behind the product. This is Resource’s first foray into developing and supporting an eCommerce technology product and is a notable departure for them. Resource has focused on PCI compliance, scalability, and ability to support the product as it scales and develops — all new areas for Resource to focus on, but the right places to emphasize. The Limited is the first client, but Resource has briefed us on plans to work with other brands and sites in the near future. Resource Interactive will be charging a set-up fee and then a percentage of sales through the feature. Q1 may prove to be very busy for the team in Columbus.
Investment in social media and trials of social commerce will be at to top of the priority list for many online retailers in 2010. In our Q4 2009 US Online Retail Executive Survey, we found that 63% of online retailers identified investment in social media as among their top priorities for 2010 (2). However, Resource Interactive will not be the only firm offering this type of solution. Many eCommerce platform and solution provides are focused on this form of social commerce enablement for clients, and without a doubt others will seek to enable this type of commerce integration to brands within the social networks.
I look for 2010 to be full of social commerce experiments, some of which will enable eCommerce syndication and illustrate how eCommerce technology must evolve to support new interaction models and technology frameworks.
Thanks, and Happy Holidays everyone,
(1) Clients, see September 18, 2009, “Technographics® Survey Highlights: How Consumers Connect With Companies Online” by Corina Matiesanu
(2) Our “Q4 2009 US Online Retail Executive Survey” was a survey of 291 US Online Retail Executives conducted early in Q4 2009. Look for upcoming research incorporating this large and comprehensive survey. Clients interested in a preview of our findings are welcome to schedule time with our eCommerce analysts via inquiry.
ACME tee image provided by Resource Interactive.