We are very pleased to have Benjamin Trotter, the founder and CEO of the social shopping engine, Storefront Social. This exciting new startup allows brands to conduct ecommerce activity directly integrated into their Facebook Fan Page.
This tool is at the forefront of the latest wave of online marketing in the retail space, the intersection of social sharing and commerce called “social shopping.” Since the days when shopping took place on streets and in “markets,” consumers have been relying on word of mouth as the best way to determine good deals and reliable merchants. As we moved towards industrialization and mass media broadcasting, we lost much of the referral aspect of where to buy, but the social media boom has allowed that “social graph” back into the buying decision. The largest social network of them all, Facebook, did not have an easy solution for a merchant to sell product, until now.
During our year end 2010 Technology Prediction podcast, we foreshadowed this type of retailing taking place on Facebook. We believed that within the year 2011, platforms would develop that would allow merchants to quickly and easily showcase their products directly on the site. Benjamin has achieved that reality.
Benjamin’s idea had its genesis while he was the Director of Ecommerce for a children’s clothing company. He was exploring all channels for generating traffic, with a particular focus on the social media sites, and started focusing attention on the company’s Facebook page. Since products change frequently in the clothing niche, he focused on using simply data feeds to display product from their site simultaneously on Facebook. As soon as the traffic and conversions started flowing in from the page, he knew that he had something that could be packaged and sold to others.
On the first day of his proof of concept attempt at allowing others to use the platform, he received a support request from a customer who had signed up and was integrating his system .. and he was off and running!
As with all great entrepreneurial stories, Benjamin came to the conclusion that he needed to take that leap of faith and go all in with an attempt to turn this platform into a full-fledged business. The application comes with a free trial startup, so with over 50,000 users, sometimes clients can slip through unnoticed … that is until a client the size of Borders Books users the app to display inventory on Facebook.
An interesting analytic that has been discovered is the correlation between Facebook fans and the views of the commerce page. Intuitively, one would think that the higher the fans the higher the views, but in fact the reality that Benjamin sees is the higher the interaction with fans the higher the views. As we discuss many times, social media is an ongoing dialog that takes real activity. It cannot be just placed out there and expected to generate returns.
Some key selling points for the way that Storefront Social handles these transactions include directly passing off the commerce functionality to the client’s ecommerce platform, privacy protection, no customer service silos, no additional reporting requirements and no added layers of transactions.
Future iterations of the application will include features such as a notation in a shopper’s Facebook feed when they have made a purchase, and conversely, getting some customization of product recommendations displayed based upon a shopper’s friends list or personal interests. Benjamin believes that the company relocating to Austin will allow him to get more directly involved with the Facebook staff in offices in that city.
They have also been able to create custom applications for their larger enterprise clients who are looking for a more branded approach to this integration.
An example of an SMB customer who has seen the direct impact of using this application is The Pond Outlet. Their Facebook page had about 7000 -8000 dedicated fans, when they integrated the $29.95 Gold Level of storefront. During that first month time period, $600 had been spent on Amazon suggested search and garnered $3000 worth of revenue, while Storefront Social generated $7,000 worth of sales!
We really thank Benjamin for his time and wish him the very best in developing this exciting technology. Take a look at the website at StoreFrontSocial.com to sign up for the free 7-Day Trial, visit them on their Facebook Page and drop a message to Benjamin to tell him you heard it on The Bella Buzz, or send a message on Twitter @StoreFrontApp.
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