Thursday, February 25, 2010

Update Your Status and Your Fashion: Facebook's Breakthrough Shopping Platform


I've started to write this post from 39,000 feet up.  Thanks to WiFi available on a lot of commercial airlines these days, I can while away the time it takes to get back to Chicago by sharing some thoughts with you, checking email and chatting.  Technology is gobsmacking to say the least...  and, also, an excellent baby sitter for those of us who can't sleep on planes.

This tech whiz bangery makes it seems apropos, then, to talk to you about a nifty little thing I read about Nine West's Facebook page courtesy of a Loyalty360 press release I read early Wednesday morning.  Starting today, Nine West has deployed a Facebook component of Fluid Social, a social shopping platform, and is essentially a strong Nine West shopping experience for its Facebook fans.  Its trademarked name is Fluid Fan Shop and the Nine West flavor closely follows its sister brand Rachel Roy's three day pop up Facebook store that was earlier this month.  The Rachel Roy exclusive Facebook product sold out within six hours!  In the first 24 hours of the store, the Rachel Roy page got 1.5 new Facebook fans per minute with a total fan increase of 35%.  Not too shabby, eh?

Now that I have your attention, I'd suggest skipping over to the Nine West Facebook page, becoming a fan and then immersing yourself in the Lookbook tab.  It's pretty darn cool because you can envelope yourself in a shoe and accessory extravaganza without ever leaving Facebook.  It's a Nine West branded love fest and it is all about you as the user: you drive what you look at, how many times you look at it, "like" an item, "share" an item, add items to your shopping cart and even watch behind the scenes video of the photo shoot (and then share that puppy, too).  As you know, other fan pages are entertaining (we talked about A1 and the M&Ms page is a personal favorite) but this takes the basic question-answer relationship with the fan and makes it more organic.  The icing on the cake is Facebook fans get a 15% discount on the products through February 28.

We can all figure out the underlying intent for this herculean shopping effort.  It truly is a magical way to engender passion for the brand because the cool factor has gone all the way up to 11 (wink wink Spinal Tap fans).  When brand passion fires are stoked, the transactions are soon to follow.  Fluid's CEO, Andy Lloyd, said it best, "Few retailers are delivering premium Facebook shopping that not only rewards fans but pulls them into a deeper relationship with the brand...  Slapping a store on Facebook doesn't deliver -- Fan Shop enables immersive brand experiences that fully integrate shopping as well as the shopper's wider social network."

You know, I read something else today which is kind of an interesting counterpoint to all of this.  A February 22 article in Ad Age by Jonathan Salem Baskin poses this question: What if Giving Up Your Brand Really Means Giving Up?  Essentially, it's all well and good that we've spent oodles of marketing dollars on "social" platforms and that we are allowing our customers/prospects drive the conversation about our brands and products.  This is particularly critical as he reminds us to look at Edelman's Trust Barometer which shows us that only 19% view social networking sites (like Facebook) as valuable sources of information (read more here).  

What does this mean?  we cannot excuse ourselves from presenting our brands and products in ways that are credible, meaningful and valuable.  In other words, recognizing the customer perceived or stated need and very clearly showing how we solve for that.  After we deliver that basic requirement, only then is it okay for us to tell customers to "talk amongst yourselves" and share experiences.  We always own the message regardless of the channel.  We can't just phone it in because we're all on Twitter, Facebook, Squidoo, etc.

Back to Rachel Roy and Nine West...  I absolutely believe that Rachel Roy got a bump (numbers don't lie) and that the same will happen for Nine West in its Lookbook and store.  The Nine West Facebook execution is exquisite and there is a tie in to the Nine West site.  I wonder about a few things though:
  • How much of the bump in fan base and transactions were simply due to "Wow" factor for people who just love technology?  
  • If so, are Facebook shopping platform technology "early adopters" Nine West's only target?
  • Other than it being cool and the 15% discount, does it matter that I can buy shoes and purses on Facebook?  
  • How much of this "Wow" will stick after this type of pop up store becomes the norm?
  • Does "Wow" translate to customers becoming intelligent brand advocates or ambassadors to others?
  • How do we sell our message creditably so that our communicated core brand identity resonates with customers as they talk to one another about us?
  • Thinking ahead, will regular people like me see Fashion Week shows "as they happen" on Facebook or other outlets?
  • Related, can QVC/HSN/Insert shopping channel here start streaming video on Facebook so we can buy as we're changing our status updates?
  • And there are oodles of others...
Truth be told: I'd be a liar if I said I didn't find that pop up shop really interesting.  I wonder how other fan pages can find ways to engage people in similar ways.  Emeril Lagasse always wanted "smell-o-vision" on his shows - maybe it's not far off for my beloved M&Ms!

Let me know if you manage to visit the Nine West Facebook page and put in your thoughts in the comments section if you've the time!


Parissa Behnia

P.S.  I love this movie... here's the "11" clip:


  1. Hmm! Makes me wonder if Facebook would be a great platform to replace antiquated food shows in the foodservice industry.

  2. Interesting... I attended IDDBA last year and I'm thinking of how you could replicate that using this type of platform. Related yet not: I bet Peapod could do this very creditably.