It’s interesting and mildly ironic that with so many prestige brands jumping on the f-commerce (Facebook e-commerce) train that it is a grocery brand, Heinz ketchup, showing the world (in our opinion) how smart f-commerce is done.

Heinz has opened up a pop-up ‘tryvertising’ f-store on Facebook (tryvertising = advertising by sampling designed to create word of mouth, pop-up = temporary), making an initial 3,000 bottles of its latest tomato ketchup (with Balsamic Vinegar) exclusively available to ketchup fans – before the new product is launched in traditional stores.  The f-store is slick, simple and smart.  Kudos Heinz, for smart social commerce.

For us, tryvertising stores in Facebook make sense.

Rather than simply mirror your traditional web-store with an f-store selling all your wares (à la Asos), instead use Facebook to create word of mouth advocacy for your new product launches by rewarding brand fans with an exclusive trial designed to stimulate word of mouth (a variable known to accelerate product uptake). The combination of exclusivity, scarcity with experience is a proven technique for stimulating word of mouth, combined with the Facebook platform – which is essentially a word of mouth platform – with a differentiated rationale versus web stores.  In other words, use Facebook for retail events. In our book, the future of f-commerce lies in retail events, not stores that simply replicate what is sold elsewhere.

Any doubt that tryvertising f-stores create word of mouth advocacy for your new products can be soundly laid to rest by checking out the positive buzz on Heinz’ wall; remember that each of these positive comments gets syndicated to an average of 130 walls.  And then remind yourself that this is just ketchup!!!

Switch out Heinz’ new ketchup for your upcoming new product launch, and ask yourself how could you make a tryvertising f-store work for you?  Then check out the ketchup f-store – and see how slick it is, compared to other f-commerce solutions.

So how could you improve on Heinz’ tryvertising store?  Not all the comments are positive and you’ll see a number of areas in need of improvement;

  1. Security – f-commerce security needs be as secure and be seen to be as secure as e-commerce. Facebook offers SSL; you need to use it and be seen to be using it
  2. Privacy – like email signup, you’ll need to tell shoppers what you will or will not do with their personal details
  3. Personal Details – keep it to a minimum – do you really need to ask for a phone number?
  4. Localization – if its a deal only available in one local market – let people now upfront – Facebook is a global platform
  5. Browser compatibility – the store should work in all major browsers, even non web standards browsers such as IE – or at the very least show a warning if not compatible

One lovely idea we noted on the Ketchup Wall was a suggestion that Heinz should include a ‘first-buyer certificate‘ with tryvertising store purchases.  Wondrous. Just do it.