Posts Tagged ‘e-commerce’

Twitter + Ecommerce = Mega-Profits?

Why do you use Twitter?

Engagement, conversations, relationship building, customer service, brand awareness, research?

What about e-commerce? Would you buy products via Twitter?

Just when people are getting used to having advertisements appear in their timelines, Twitter is aggressively pushing forward with T-commerce.

This strategic initiative was thrust into the spotlight last week when Twitter hired Nathan Hubbard, the ex-president of Ticketmaster, to head up its commerce unit.

“We’re going to go to people who have stuff to sell and help them use Twitter to sell it more effectively,” Hubbard told Mashable.

In many respects, Twitter’s embrace of e-commerce reflects how social media is quickly moving away from being a “soft sell” medium.

Until recently, there was an element of risk if brands used social media to blatantly drive sales.

Instead, the focus was on brand awareness, providing advice and engagement as a way to develop goodwill and, ultimately, sales.

Now, the rules of engagement appear to be changing…quickly.

The biggest driver is financial. As much as Twitter and Facebook, for example, are “free” services, there is a growing need for them to monetize their large user bases.

For Facebook, it needs to be meet the never-ending demands of investors and Wall St. – the harsh reality of being a publicly-traded company.

For Twitter, revenue growth is becoming paramount as it moves closer to an initial public offering.

While advertising is certainly one way for Twitter to generate revenue, it’s clearly not enough to reach its goal of $1-billion in sales next year.

This is why Twitter is so enthusiastic about e-commerce as a revenue engine by providing tools to retailers looking to sell products within tweets.

The $64,000 question is whether consumers will embrace Twitter as an e-commerce vehicle.

As much as people love Twitter as a way to share content and engage in conversations, it will be interested to see if their enthusiastic migrates to making purchases.

Maybe Twitter’s e-commerce plans will thrive because people spend so much time using the service and, as a result, will see products purchases as just another value-added way to leverage the platform.

For brands, the challenge will be maintaining the fine balance between engagement and brand awareness with their interest in selling stuff.

Brands that sell hard risk being criticized for being too aggressive, while brands that maintain a soft sell approach could miss out on tapping into a new, lucrative channel.

So here’s the question: Would you make purchases via Twitter? If so, what kind of products would you buy?

For more thoughts about Twitter’s push into e-commerce, check out this Bloomberg interview with Greylock Partners’ Josh Elman, who sees Twitter as a great place to make impulse purchases such as tickets.

Pinterest: The King of E-commerce Influence

We all have our favourite e-commerce Websites or places that we go to when we want to find new, shiny things to buy.

Most of us have accepted that these sites influence us and introduce us to new products and services.

Facebook was seen as one of the most influential players when it came to consumers’ buying decisions, but a recent survey by BizRate Insight has unearthed a brand new development.

Pinterest is influencing buying decisions greater than any other popular forum.

While Facebook is still the king of all social networks (ignoring their recent stock market issues for a moment), Pinterest naturally gives people the fever and will to purchase products online.

This might be the best way for Pinterest to position itself going forward, especially as the expected competition becomes much more fierce.

As for any brand or marketing and communications department, this is where more time needs to be invested to discover an increase in e-commerce sales. You have to build tactics focused on Pinterest and the appeal of posting photos, videos and graphics.

As we all know things in social media change fast, but Pinterest’s hold on our buying psyche might only tighten as we go forward.

It would be a good idea for everyone not to resist but delve deep into Pinterest and find out if it is the best place for you to discover what you want to buy next.

More: Tara Hunt had an interesting post in Forbes about how Facebook is a social graph while Pinterest is an interest graph.

 

The Fancy Piggybacks on Pinterest

Another day, another popular social media network has arisen.  The Fancy has gained a lot of steam from fans of Pinterest and avid fans of online shopping.

Similar to Pinterest, users of The Fancy are asked to publish photos of things they love. But unlike Pinterest you can purchase the items that pique your fancy. Pretty clever.

The Fancy claims to have about $50,000 (a disputed number) of merchandise and travel purchased per week, a number that will likely rise in the near future. Whatever the real profits at this time isn’t a big factor, the elements for success exist.

Let’s be honest, social media needs more creative forums, and The Fancy hopes to join Pinterest in the elite second tier.

The trick to this new shiny social media toy may be the promotions and offers. Couple this with the functionality of the website and the user base, and it could reach some great heights.

There are some negatives to The Fancy right off the bat (beyond the muddy financials), primarily that to add an e-commerce element, you need more than photos. Most users want context before making a purchase.

Another potential downfall is there is inherently less personal attachment than Pinterest. Pinterest’s bread and butter is the use images to extend your personality to the public. When you add shopping, you lose some of the personal element.

As well, The Fancy’s Website looks like a classy WordPress template, and not much more. This is where they can learn a lot from Pinterest.

Have you heard of or checked out The Fancy yet? Does it heighten the online shopping or pinboard experience?

Are Consumers Ready to Buy Into Social Selling?

As much as some brands such as Dell have been able to sell products and services via social media, the general rule of thumb is that social media is, at best, a soft sales medium.

It means brands will not enjoy much success if they try to drive sales via Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, et al. Those who try to do it could not only not get much traction but be rebuffed by consumers, who apparently don’t want to buy stuff via social media.

This belief has been hammered home by how some high-profile brands such as J.C. Penney, The Gap and Nordstrom have closed their stores on Facebook, even though Facebook appears to be a popular advertising medium to consumers.

But here’s an interesting question: As social media ROI becomes a more important metric as brands look to justify spending, does it mean that social selling will gain more traction?

In other words, will brands look to drive more direct sales even if means there might be some pushback from consumers? Will brands employ patience and pragmatism to wear down the reluctance by consumers to make transactions via social media.

For this change to happen, more brands will have to bite the bullet and, at the same time, there will need to be a cultural shift among consumers in how they see the role and place of social media. And it will likely take time to happen.

This is not to suggest there will be a huge shift away from Websites being the primary e-commerce vehicle. But it may be that social media becomes a bigger part of the overall mix as brands decide to stay the course rather than concede social media is only a “soft sell” channel.

What do you think? Can social media become more of a hard sales medium?

For more thoughts on social sales, check out this blog post by Paul Gillin on how IBM is changing how some of its salespeople are doing their jobs.

Social Networks + eCommerce = The Future

If there’s a digital marriage that makes complete sense, it’s social media and e-commerce. The lid is starting to be pulled off on the world of social  commerce, and within a few years it will be the norm.

Consider this scenario: you’re shopping at a store and decide to check in on Foursquare. You’re then notified there is a social commerce app, which, if downloaded, let’s you immediately make purchases.

Intrigued, you download the app, scan the product barcodes, pay, and then walk out of the store without waiting in line or getting accosted by mall security. If this isn’t beautiful a evolution of  shopping, social media and app development, than I’m not sure what is.

It means we are on the road to using social media to not only influence our buying decisions but also purchase goods and services. Even though social commerce has been slow out of the gates, the comfort level and activity will grow exponentially.

The ability to log into social networks to discuss brands and herd opinions is a huge factor in a many of our purchases. This is especially true when it comes to entertainment, technology, pharmaceuticals, clothing and restaurants.

The world is moving closer to a fewest-clicks-as-possible and one-stop-shopping mentality. While some generations may be resistant to online shopping, they will be even more resistant to social commerce once it hits a greater stride.

Social commerce will change the way we connect to social networks and, at the same time, it will create a greater reliance on the Web as whole. It is the next step into the digital integration of our everyday lives.

Will Facebook Thrive with F-Commerce?

I had an interesting conversation recently with Likeable Media’s Dave Kerpen, who suggested many people don’t use to Facebook to make purchases. Instead, he said, they use the Web to buy things.

It’s an interesting statement given how much attention Facebook is attracting for its plans to aggressively drive sales – aka F-commerce.

With an IPO looming in the horizon, Facebook needs to drive revenue and profit margins so F-commerce is seen as a lucrative opportunity for brands to connect directly with consumers.

The question is whether F-commerce is going to succeed in a major way. As much as consumers like to engage with brands on Facebook, will they make purchases within Facebook?

Many high-profile brands such as Delta Airlines, Tide and Starbucks are trying to make it easier by creating user-friendly e-commerce stores in Facebook. But it is left to be seen whether these companies are exceptions to the rule.

Among the biggest challenges facing Facebook’s F-commerce strategy is being able to convince consumers they can trust the platform and the companies offering products and services through Facebook Pages.

As much as e-commerce has become an integral part of the consumer marketplace, most sales happen on a corporate Web site. Facebook and companies selling products and services on Facebook will need to educate and convince consumers the experience will be the same on Facebook as it would be on a corporate Web site.

The other challenge facing Facebook is coming up with the right and fair business model that helps Facebook drive revenue but doesn’t take too big a piece of the pie.

There seems to be growing resistance to the fact Facebook takes a 30% commission on any transaction that uses Facebook Credits.

It was interesting to see Zynga, which makes the popular FarmVille, CityVille and Mafia Wars games, recently unveil Zynga Direct because it no longer wants to hand 30% of its revenue to Facebook. The Telegraph’s Emma Barnett described it as a “bold and necessary” move.

Do you think F-commerce will thrive, or will Facebook struggle to become an e-commerce powerhouse?

Links:

Will f-commerce succeed? (eConsultancy)