Consumer Psychology for a Digital Age

New F-Commerce Stores: JCPenney, Swarovski, Hautelook and Miami Heat [screenshots]

Just a few months ago, you’d have to argue why your business should have a Facebook store, today you’d probably have to justify any decision not to open up shop on Facebook.  So it’s no surprise that new f-commerce stores from major brands and retailers are popping up on an almost daily basis.

In the last few days, we’ve seen the opening of new f-commerce stores (screenshots below) from department store JCPenney, jeweller Swarovski, the Miami Heat basketball team – home to basketball’s three musketeers – Dwayne Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosch, and the flash sale site Hautelook.  All four are using different social commerce software, all offering different user experiences – and between them showcasing the current state of the f-commerce nation.

Browse through the stores and several things will strike you – first, if you’re new to f-commerce – there’s the wow factor – you can do that on Facebook??? Then you’ll see that f-commerce comes in two basic flavours – storefronts (online catalogues linking to product pages on external e-commerce sites) and full stores (offering shopping cart and checkout facilities to allow transactions to take place entirely within Facebook).

Swarovski Elements and Hautelook have opted to for the storefront solution, the former is a “custom created” store, and the latter powered by Alvenda software.  Storefronts such as these may be well suited to businesses that don’t typically sell direct, but work with (a range of) preferred retailers (e.g. Swarovski crystals used in Victoria’s Secret lingerie).  Idem for specialist ‘event-shopping’ retailers requiring sophisticated site-based e-commerce functionality such as Hautelook.  For others, a full store f-commerce solution may be preferable, such as those adopted by JC Penney and Miami Heat – powered by Usablenet and Milyoni software respectively.

The next thing likely to strike you is that despite ever-improving software, there is an experiential shock when you click the shop tab.  Some may put this down to the fact Facebook is essentially a conversational platform not a commerce platform.  An alternative explanation is that what you see when you click the shop tab tends to reflect the brand or retailer more than Facebook.  Many Facebook stores haven’t been rendered to feel as if they are an integral part of Facebook; rather it can feel as if an external e-commerce site has been shoe-horned into Facebook.  Perhaps this is fine – but part of the appeal of the Facebook walled garden is precisely that it is a walled garden – and everything feels familiar within it. Whatever the case, one commercial opportunity for 2011 is f-commerce usability testing.

Finally, whilst browsing the stores, you may ask yourself “Why?”  What’s the purpose of this store? What does it offer that site-based e-commerce doesn’t?  Convenience, you say… then you try the 60-seconds-to-checkout test.  Hmm.  So is it exclusive merchandise and offers, exclusively for our Facebook fans, and not available elsewhere?  Hmm. Existential dilemma.

In our view, successful f-commerce stores will have a distinct and differentiated raison d’être (such as ‘get-it-first’ VIP store for fans), as well as offering a shopping experience that is faster, cheaper and better that site-based e-commerce. So another opportunity in 2011, in our view, will be f-commerce strategy development.

Smart retailers and smart technology companies are working to make f-commerce happen. The current state of the f-commerce nation is good – but we think it’s going to get a lot better as strategy and user experience testing become better integrated with the nascent area.

Comments (7):

  1. Alvin Tan

    December 15, 2010 at 03:50

    I think retailers and merchants are starting to get over the initial excitement of being able to sell on Facebook and beginning to yearn for more than just being able to sell on Facebook. The pitfall, naturally, to avoid is to ensure that the Facebook store does not become the HQ of the brand or the first go-to spot for brand enthusiasts. Facebook is still a walled garden and some things, especially point-of-sale transactions, are still best done onsite.

    Reply
  2. Matt Compton, CEO, ShopIgniter

    December 15, 2010 at 13:39

    Great points to f-commerce strategy, to follow on that (and give a little ShopIgniter plug)

    Setting up the store inside of Facebook is the first step. But Facebook is not a mall, and social eCommerce is not just about transacting inside of social networks. Its how you optimize your customer networks to influence the awareness, interest, decision and purchase process leading up to the transaction.

    Its how you wrap social promotions like the VIP/limited time sales, social badging and grouping, rewards programs, incentives, social couponing around your transactional presence in a way that activates your network. This is a good example of these social promotions driving sales inside of Facebook: http://www.cio.com/article/644565/Emerging_Tech_Social_Commerce_Fills_the_Shopping_Cart?page=1&taxonomyId=3004

    f-commerce is another channel, and will have dynamics that are inherently unique to it, just like existing channels (retail, ecommerce, catalog, app, mobile). We see the ShopIgniter Facebook Store as one of the tools in the social eCommerce equation, and that retailers and brands will start to look at their holistic social eCommerce strategy in 2011 and look for comprehensive solutions to support it (like the ShopIgniter sCommerce Suite)

    To end, here are a couple sites we launched this week and social promotions coming soon:

    Portland Trail Blazers: http://apps.facebook.com/trailblazersstore/books/40th-anniversary-book

    Garfield: http://apps.facebook.com/shopgarfield/

    Reply
  3. Matt Scoble

    December 15, 2010 at 18:28

    Great comments by Alvin & Matt C. I think both raise really excellent points. First, be sure to be careful to not have FB become the focus of your brand’s activities. Second, be mindful of how you wrap social promotions around transactional mechanisms. At Quorus (minor plug!), we recognize that brands/retailers need to go where their customers are (i.e., develop an f-commerce strategy). But equally important is the focus on making their own site the focus of key social interactions around the shopping experience on the site–and that is where Quorus provides support and expertise.

    See what we’re doing on the VIP service on the Zappos site (vip.zappos.com), on ZipRealty or on MercyCorps.org.

    Thanks, Paul, for another great article on these emerging trends!

    Reply
  4. Alex Savic

    December 26, 2010 at 17:49

    Great post and comments so far. A couple of points that our team is focusing on are social recommendations and how they can be optimized for the news feed and then to see what actually delivers the best conversion rates; the checkout process inside of Facebook or redirecting the checkout onto the merchant’s existing e-commerce site. Our original thinking was stubbornly in the inline checkout camp but we’ve come to realize that the majority of online merchants are still some way off from being able to open their systems to external checkout. This is also a reason why we are seeing such a slow adoption of mobile storefronts with integrated checkout, although if anything, that will be the major driving force behind getting merchants to accept the idea of external checkouts and then to make the necessary investments to upgrade existing systems to accomodate for distributed e-commerce applications.

    Alex Savic
    CEO – NextWidgets

    Reply

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