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Social Commerce Opportunities for 2012

By Gina Rau | Posted on October 03, 2011

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While retailers are still experimenting with social tactics, many are still looking for some ROI against their social activities. The tactics in use range from Facebook pages to blogs to product sharing and forums, all in hopes of increasing engagement with shoppers to convert them over to customers.

We recently hosted a webinar with guest speaker Sucharita Mulpuru, VP and Principal eCommerce Analyst at Forrester on the topic of the Social Commerce of 2012. We heard from many attendees that the insights shared will play an important role as they develop their plans for next year. What follows is an overview of the key findings and takeaways from the webinar.

Framework: Relevant eCommerce trends


Online spending is experiencing fast year over year growth, with most categories indicating a shift from in-store transactions to online. Retailers expect this shift in wallet share to peak this coming holiday season.

Social, local and mobile fuels growth across each of these trends. Mobile commerce will likely be on par to online wallet share soon, as it’s being propelled by social and local tools like check-in rewards and apps that help shoppers research, find, share and buy what they want from a mobile app or site.

The Social Commerce Landscape

Some retailers like JCPenney and 1-800-Flowers are experimenting with Facebook Commerce, or fCommerce. Within the walls of Facebook, few are seeing incremental sales growth, with most not finding positive results at all.

Social Commerce

Image Credit: Sucharita Mulpuru of Forrester

Sucharita talked about Off-Facebook Commerce examples like Levi’s Friends Store where there is a social connection between the online store and Facebook’s open graph to tap into Like’s and Share’s on product pages. Social shopping means that users can see which of their friend’s like a certain pair of jeans or let their social network know what they’re buying from the site.

Most impactful for retailers is to Extract Data from Facebook and to utilize the social profile data to glean insights on trends, identify high influencers, gather customer intentions, access the social graph of your fans, etc. Success here is dependent on how you use the data you gather. Those that reap the benefits are using this data in CRM efforts, to personalize the shopping experience, improve product recommendations or to enhance their marketing programs.

She notes: the value isn’t necessarily in capturing the information, but rather gathering the data and using it in to enhance marketing efforts.

The Promise of Social Login

Janrain Engage Social Login Widget

Mulit-channel retailer’s big challenge is the ability to understand the impact of the web to a purchase. More than half of all visits, and much of the pre-shopping product research, happen on the web without the retailer’s knowledge. Being able to track that online research and early buying intention to a specific purchase represents significant opportunity for retailers.

Traditionally, when someone entered your store, you didn’t know who they were and couldn’t identify your most loyal customer from a browser. Marketers today have social tools like check-ins, social login and social sharing to not only improve the shopping experience for users, but open the door for retailers to develop a 360 degree view of their shoppers.

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Social Login at

With conversion rates for online retail sites hovering around 3%, there is a significant number of site visitors that are unidentified: actions, intentions, interests and data around those visitors that leave your site with the shopper. Social login gives retailers a powerful tool to identify those previously anonymous visitors.

Incenting them to login, and remain so while they shop and engage on your site, helps you understand who they are, what they’re looking at and a wealth of other on-site activity knowledge that can be leveraged in your marketing programs.

Sucharita’s Key Takeaways

  • Activity “off” a social network is often more important than what is “on” a social network
  • Extracting useful data and appending that to master files can often be the most powerful application of social networks particularly for large retailers
  • The concept of a social login has promise for retailers looking to identify non-buyers and to improve site targeting and personalization

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About the author

Gina Rau

Gina Rau

Marketing Communications Manager

With almost 20 years of marketing success, Gina is a brand engagement specialist who seeks out creative solutions for every marketing challenge. Her work has delivered results for leading brands like Whole Foods, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, JCPenney, Tillamook Creamery and more. At Janrain, she leads the charge to make sure our company, products and services shine through our messaging and content.

View all posts by Gina Rau