As Facebook floats with a valuation of more than $100bn, Retail Week asks what advantages the social network has created for retailers?
Some retailers have adopted tactics, such as an interactive Tesco game on Facebook, to build brand awareness. The retailer’s virtual fitting room - using augmented reality – for its F&F fashion brand has been a hit too. Facebook also allows retailers to engage with customers in a more informal manner and share tips and information – such as recipes – with dedicated shoppers, increasing brand engagement.
Using and integrating data
Facebook’s Open Graph – the footprint of connections that Facebook users produce as they interact with friends and online content – has allowed retailers such as eBay to integrate marketing tailored for a specific audience. Although some users are uncomfortable with such use of their data, Facebook remains a free service which they are paying for with their information.
Retailers can also now integrate their Facebook page users’ data with their existing databases, allowing them to get in touch with customers quickly and effectively.
A large number of retailers use Facebook simply to drive traffic to their own website.
Targeting new customers
Department store group House of Fraser teamed up with the National Union of Students to offer a 10% student discount to Facebook users who ‘like’ the retailer.
Retailers including C&A have used Facebook to gauge the popularity of new products and work out volumes to stock in store accordingly. Some retailers have even polled Facebook users to decide which of new stores to open first.
Retailers including Asos have opened Facebook shops using Paypal to transact. This allows Facebook users to navigate to a shop quickly, without having to take a deliberate decision to ‘go shopping’ on the conventional etail site.
The new timeline format of Facebook has allowed retailers to take advantage of a more fashionable, design-led profile. It also tracks users’ history, showing what users have done in the past and enabling advertising to be tailored accordingly.
Argos and Debenhams are among the retailers who have signed up to the Facebook Deals initiative, which allows retailers to use the Place application to create location-specific deals, tailoring the offer for customers and increasing the likelihood they will make a purchase.
The impact of social media is evident at Burberry, one of the most adept users of sites such as Facebook. The luxury goods specialist now has 10m Facebook fans – second only in fashion to Victoria’s Secret. Burberry linked the launch of its Burberry Body fragrance last year to Facebook by giving a sample to people who ‘liked its page.
Facebook’s $1bn acquisition of the photo-sharing app may have surprised some, but Instagram has already been used by Ted Baker to send high quality images to its Facebook page and drive traffic from fashion shoppers.