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18 months ago Disney opened up an innovative group ticketing app in Facebook with Fandango online movie ticketing, to help movie fans buy ‘Tickets Together’ (the name of the app) for the latest Disney movies.

We liked Disney’s f-commerce ticketing app because it was fan-focused (for movie fans), social (group-buying), viral (invite-a-friend), event-driven (launch of new movies), and differentiated:  The app had a differentiated “value proposition” – over and above mere convenience selling – it solved a specific problem (real or imagined).

Whilst we believe that the secret to successful f-commerce is to use Facebook as a fan-channel, and not just another convenience channel for regular consumers, we like Disney’s ‘app-thinking’ approach to f-commerce – find a problem and solve it with an e-commerce enabled Facebook app.

So 18 months later, another arm of the Disney leviathan is using an app-thinking approach to f-commerce – solving another consumer problem – this time what gift to buy, with a holiday gift guide Facebook app.  It’s not a full e-commerce app, because app users are thrown out of Facebook to complete any transactions on the Disney store website. But like the group-buy ticketing app, the gift-guide app – an e-commerce enabled catalogue – is designed to solve a consumer problem.

The fan app – developed by Boston-based online publishing platform provider Zmags – is simple, essentially a slideshow catalogue of a curated selection of gift ideas that you can browse, and then add to a shopping cart before checking out on the Disney store website. Whilst we’re not convinced that the e-commerce enabled catalogue app is compelling enough to drive significant sales (kudos though to Zmags for making the f-commerce app iOS friendly), the approach is smart – solve a fan’s problem and the the sales will follow.  In our view, too many f-commerce experiments fail because they don’t solve a problem any better than existing solutions.

Smart Facebook Commerce = Consumer Problem + App Solution