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Spotlight on social commerce: How 1-800-Flowers puts Facebook to work

5 min read

Digital Technology

This Spotlight on Social Commerce series is brought to you by Bazaarvoice, bringing the power of social commerce to the world’s best brands. Once a month, this blog will focus on the tactics, best practices and trends on the intersection of social media and commerce.

The following Q-and-A is an edited transcript of my conversation with Jon Mandell, general manager of Mandel contributes to the company’s social commerce strategy, including the 1-800-Flowers Facebook application, which allows customers to make purchases directly from their Facebook feed.

How do you distinguish your Facebook commerce presence from your e-commerce presence ? What are you doing to make the most of features afforded by Facebook?

For one, it’s definitely a smaller product set. It’s just another environment. Ultimate, we don’t care where people purchase 1-800-Flowers’ products, so long as they’re purchasing them. So rather than redirect everyone back to 1-800-Flowers [the website], we’d rather just bring the product to wherever people are already hanging out online.

So there’s not really a push to work more social features in?

There is over time. Right now — sometimes it becomes difficult to keep up with some of the things Facebook is doing and changing. We’re working closely with their team, trying to do as much as we can. For instance … rather than people having to find our store, we’re able to put a product for them to purchase right into the feed. That’s been really helpful.

Are you looking to have users interact with each other through the store?

The way most users interact with us on Facebook is for a lot of contests and giveaways and things we do. Not for the store itself. … We’re looking to be more transactional to have more transactions. So as a result, we just want to talk and engage with people. They don’t have to purchase something from us.

How are you measuring success? Does that process differ from how you’re measuring success for your website or other online portals?

Absolutely different metrics. You can never apply the same metrics across the board for every channel. It just doesn’t work. Obviously, conversion rates on the site are not going to be the same that they are … going to be on the site, because that’s not why they’re there. People are coming to our site to find a gift. People are not coming to Facebook to find a gift. We look at a lot of the standard Facebook metrics — how our friend count is doing, interactions between those, our defriending rate. That’s our way of making sure we’re delivering relevant content to people.

We don’t want them to find what we’re putting out there annoying. There’s a fine balance. We track it pretty closely: the amount of fun things offered versus promotions versus customer service. There’s so many things you can do with the tool, but gotta make sure you’re always being relevant to the consumer.

There’s been some controversy lately about certain brands requiring users to “like” their Facebook page before they can use the brands’ social commerce apps — or even view discussions. What’s your take on that?

Generally, I think that anything you put in the way of someone purchasing from you is not the best thing, because ultimately that’s your final goal. But if you do want to incent people to friend you, I think that, that’s great. I don’t have a problem with incenting people at all, as long as it’s not counterproductive to your ultimate goal.

So if you’re not making likes mandatory, how do you achieve that? How do you incentivize people to like you?

Perhaps you give them a discount. I’m making numbers up, but you could give them 10% off their next order or maybe free shipping. Whatever the case may be.

Has having a Facebook book commerce app taught you anything about your customers and the things they buy that you didn’t know before?

Facebook has helped us in other ways, especially when it comes to using the “like” button on our website for merchandising … but I think that our Facebook audience is not completely indicative of our overall audience.

How’s that?

Our Facebook profile skews more female.

Why do you think that is?

I’m the wrong person to ask about that. … I would imagine it’s the kind of content and offers and the kinds of things we’re putting out there.

Everybody’s talking about location right now — but have you given any thought to building a sense of time into your social commerce efforts? Are you adapting it for seasons or holidays?

It’s largely a merchandizing thing. There’s a little bit of a skin [on Facebook] but for the most part, it’s a merchandizing effort.

What drew you to Facebook for this effort? Is it the size of the user base? The ease of integration? Are there other channels you’re looking at?

We’re looking at all channels. Everyone is on Facebook. There’s no reason not to be there. That’s where you get the highest concentration of people and where you get to learn the fastest because of all the people who are there. … You can target people and do all these things — Facebook is a great tool for that, as long as it’s used properly. But our shoplet can be moved to other places. It’s not exclusive to Facebook.

Image credit: kcline via iStockphoto