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Consumer brand giant Unilever has joined the f-commerce party, launching a storefront on Facebook for it’s Dove brand.  Taking a leaf from the (Face)book of its arch rival P&G, Unilever has teamed up with Amazon for payments and logistics.  Smart move for a brand manufacturer with little retail experience.  And to assuage concerns of any retailers thinking Unilever might be about to to cut them out of the picture by selling direct, the store is Amazon branded, selling Dove products already available on Amazon.

The Dove Facebook store features a wondrously attractive shopping cart, and then checkout is redirected to Amazon.  Whilst only a storefront, the layout and shopping cart raise the bar for f-commerce user experience.  A nice touch is the product summary with a ‘read more’ link that reveals more product blurb, keeping the feel of the store clean and uncluttered. Another nice touch is that the store features user reviews, and allows users to post new reviews.

Differentiating the Unilever store from other f-commerce stores is the fact that it appears to have been built ground-up as an international store – allowing users to select country (UK, US, Turkey, Mexico, Ireland, Canada, Brazil, Argentina) and language (although only the US appears hooked up to Amazon right now).  The shape of things to come?

Rather than list all Unilever brands, the Dove store sells only Dove (P&G’s Pampers store sells all P&G products), and not all Dove products at that.  This, we think is smart, allowing Unilever to offer followers exclusive deals for new products as – and ideally, before – they get into stores to stimulate word of mouth demand. As we saw yesterday, with the LivingSocial Amazon deal, social commerce works best when you offer something worth talking about – i.e. something new, something unique and something exclusive.  Only by being remarkable in Facebook are retailers likely to benefit from the viral potential the network has to offer.  Our view is that f-commerce will work best when it is a platform for live event shopping.  Think TV shopping, rather than e-commerce sites – and you’ll be on the right track.

Unilever might be a late entrant into the social commerce game – compared to pioneer P&G, but it appears to be learning from the experience of others.  That’s called social intelligence, and that’s what social commerce is all about.