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Social Media Commerce: The Next Big Thing for Small Business?

social media commerceAlways on the hunt for blog fodder these days, I saved an article from the Chicago Tribune a few weeks ago (March 13, 2013) titled, “Small startups give thumbs-up to social media commerce.” Since we’re always interested in selling more promotional products here at Show Your Logo, I gave the article a gander. I know that many of our customers are selling something, too. Whether it’s a service, a new product, or a whole line of clothing, most people who buy promotional products are out to sell something. If this means you, sit up and pay attention. It’s time to take a closer look at social media if you haven’t already.

It seems that there are several small start-up businesses making the most of their Facebook Fan Pages, meaning they’re selling directly through Facebook. Lolly Wolly Doodle reportedly sells 30,000 children’s garments a month, mostly through Facebook. Facebook sales are managed through Facebook comments. Impressive. Perhaps a bit low-tech in this day and age of e-commerce sites, but impressive.

I checked out Lolly Wolly Doodle’s Fan Page to deconstruct how a retailer can sell products on Facebook through a Fan Page.

The tabs portion of the page includes directions on “How to Shop.” It appears that the first person or first few people to comment on each product “win” the opportunity to buy it. “Winners” appear in another tab. Quantities are limited, so Lolly limits the number of sales.

As far as the products go, Lolly posts an image of an adorable child modeling the outfit for sale and includes information about sizes available and price in the caption under each photo. Customers who want to buy reply in the comments section, indicating exactly what they want to buy followed by their e-mail address.

About those e-mail addresses made public, the Tribune writes, “Lolly Wolly Doodle invites users to post their email addresses on Facebook, a tactic that could invite inappropriate use of the information.” Exactly what I was thinking. Why not encourage customers to click on over to the Lolly Wolly Doodle e-commerce site? That’s what the Gap does. That’s what Macy’s does. They have pleasant conversations with their customers on Facebook and encourage them to click through to their e-commerce sites to close the sale.

I found it highly interesting that Lolly Wolly Doodle has its own e-commerce site in addition to the Facebook Fan Page where it conducts “most” of its sales. I decided to do some investigating.

With a Google Page Rank of 3 on the Lolly Wolly Doodle e-commerce home page and with 534,000 Likes on their Facebook Fan Page, I’m starting to see the light. Butter your bread where there’s butter. For Lolly, it’s all about Facebook. Good for Lolly. Those custom-made outfits are snapped up like hot cakes, and I’m guessing all those Fans feel the pressure to be first to comment to “win’ the chance to buy. It’s like a high-stakes Ebay auction without the bidding war.

The Tribune reports that bigger retailers are lagging behind these small, start-up “pioneers” of social media commerce. Is it any wonder? Gap.com has a Google page rank of 6. Not bad. Their butter is right there on their home page. Also, who hasn’t heard of Gap? Who has heard of Lolly Wolly Doodle? Even with four kids in my household, I’d never heard of Lolly Wolly Doodle until I read the Tribune article. (Cute outfits for the younger set, by the way.) Is it worth it to attempt to manage sales of one pair of jeans or a few t-shirts through the comments section on Facebook for a company as enormous as Gap?

I wonder.

By the way, Booz & Co., a global management consulting firm, predicts that $30 billion in goods will be sold through social media by 2015. Are they right? Is Facebook and Pinterest where e-commerce is headed, at least for small businesses?

What are your thoughts? As a consumer, are you interested in shopping directly on a Facebook Fan Page? If so, what is the appeal of doing so?

If you’re selling something, are you going to attempt to use social media to sell your products? Have you seen amazing example of companies pioneering sales through social media?

 

 

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