Brands explore social commerce

02 September 2011

NEW YORK: Brand owners such as Domino's Pizza, Staples and Wal-Mart are all attempting to enhance their understanding regarding how social media can drive sales.

Speaking to The Hub Magazine, Dennis Maloney, vp, multimedia marketing at Domino's, stated the firm now boasts over 3m "likes" on Facebook, supplementing its rapidly-growing ecommerce audience.

"You would be surprised how many customers 'shop' at Domino's, from a retail standpoint, online," he said. "Social media has a huge amount of potential for us to strengthen that relationship with our consumers. And it has huge potential to convert those relationships into real dollars."

Elsewhere, American Express has utilised Facebook to run a "Small Business Saturday", giving small companies the chance to win $20,000, and one-on-one guidance about effectively using the social network.

Such prizes were combined with a scheme giving a $25 credit to cardholders buying $25 worth of goods from participating retailers. "This drove a tonne of foot traffic and increased American Express card usage," said David Sommer, client partner, global marketing solutions, at Facebook.

Staples, the office supplies and technology retailer, has used social media to distribute offers and branded content, gauge consumer sentiment and deal with enquiries, but believes it will take time to ascertain the channel's revenue-generating possibilities.

"From a sales perspective, it's still a little too early to tell. But we expect that to grow as social media evolves and as people become more and more comfortable with it," Kevin Biondi, director of digital and technology marketing at Staples, said.

"When we look at monetisation, typically it's about driving sales. But before you can drive sales you have to have a connection with your customer. Social media allows you to have that connection as well as the ability to listen to what customers are saying."

Urban Outfitters, the apparel chained, recently rolled out a "newsfeed magazine" on Facebook, directing users to a digital catalogue, and offering links to its own ecommerce hub.

"With fans spending more than twice as much time in their news feed than they do in applications, this tool enables a new, highly useful class of interactive Facebook content," Mark Curtis, president of enter:new media, the digital agency working with Urban Outfitters on the project.

In perhaps the strongest indication of the importance of this area, Wal-Mart, the world's biggest retailer, has set up @WalmartLabs after taking over Mountain View-based start-up Kosmix, with the aim of "fusing" retail, social, mobile and local media.

"Retail is being transformed by technology," said Gibu Thomas, svp, mobile and online at Wal-Mart. "What we're trying to do is be as good in technology as we are in retail."

Data sourced from The Hub/Mercury News; additional content by Warc staff