1-800-Flowers First to Sell From Facebook Page

Discussion
Jul 30, 2009
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Most retailers use social media sites as a means to entice
and direct consumers to another site to make a purchase. Now 1-800-Flowers.com
is foregoing that extra step by enabling consumers to place orders directly
on the company’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/1800flowers).

“Facebook is redefining the social web, a cultural and social
phenomenon that has changed the way we connect with one another,” said
Jim McCann, CEO and Founder of 1-800-Flowers.com, in a press release. “In
1992, 1-800-Flowers was one of the first businesses to embrace the internet
and in 1994 we were the first merchant of any kind to transact on AOL.
Fifteen years later, we are extremely proud to again be the first — this
time in launching a retail store inside Facebook, a bold step in unlocking
the tremendous marketing potential of social media.”

With 1,847 fans as of 8:50 EST last night, 1-800-Flowers is
a long way from unlocking the wallets and purses of the 250 million active
Facebook users.

Discussion Questions:
Will many more companies follow the lead of 1-800-Flowers and establish
an e-commerce function within their Facebook and/or other social media
sites? Will having pages with an e-commerce function change the nature
of the relationship between users and the social media site? Will this
be a positive or negative?

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18 Comments on "1-800-Flowers First to Sell From Facebook Page"


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David Dorf
Guest
11 years 9 months ago

In the past, it’s been about taking the customer to the online store. Now the store is being brought to the customer so they can make a quick purchase without leaving their current page. The same technology that powers the 1-800-Flowers Facebook page also works in website advertising. See my posting on Shoplets for more information.

This trend will continue for certain types of purchases, especially those that are considered impulse.

Gregory Belkin
Guest
Gregory Belkin
11 years 9 months ago

I believe this is an excited yet mostly expected development, given the interest retailers have given to Facebook and other forms of social media. As I mentioned in an earlier comment, taking advantage of social networking capabilities is a smart “next step” for retailers looking to follow the masses.

What makes this situation interesting is that 1-800-FLOWERS is, as the post article acknowledges, ahead of the curve. They have experience under their belt with successful, process-driven Web-based e-commerce. So, for them, the next step was social commerce and they took with at the appropriate time. That makes them a good model to follow for others. First, get your Web-based e-commerce strategy in shape. Second, when that is done, tackle the possibilities that social networking offers.

Joel Warady
Guest
Joel Warady
11 years 9 months ago
While selling flowers through Facebook is not a bad idea, I’m not sure how successful the initiative will ultimately be. Yes, it is true that there are some natural synergies. The fact that Facebook tracks all of your friends’ birthdays, and with a click of the mouse, I’m assuming that 1-800-Flowers will be able to send flowers to those friends, we can’t forget the foundation of Social Media. Social Media is a platform in which people can maintain relationships with your friends. Therefore, you have to ask this question. When you are sitting around a table, speaking with friends, do you want to necessarily buy something from your friends? Do you want to be bombarded with sales messages from your friends? The answer of course is no, unless it is a MLM party. If e-commerce starts to permeate the Social Media sites, ultimately the sites will lose their appeal, and something new will come along. Proof of this is 1-800-Flowers boast that they were the first to sell on AOL. Great! Look where AOL is… Read more »
Max Goldberg
Guest
11 years 9 months ago

This is a logical progression in the development of social marketing. By bringing the store to the consumer, 1-800-Flowers is making it easier for consumers to browse and buy. Whether they get one order or 1000 orders does not matter. For unlike brick and mortar, it cost almost nothing to open and run this store on Facebook. What matters is the ease of use for current and potential customers.

Bernice Hurst
Guest
11 years 9 months ago

Just this morning I was reading about the problems Facebook and Twitter, for example, have had in finding ways to make money. This is the obvious solution and, as others have been saying (or thinking) no surprise and about time, too. Saving time by clicking a single button rather than (ho, hum) having to move to ANOTHER site will be just too much for some users to resist. Forgot an occasion? Got something to apologise for? Just feeling generous and impulsive? Hey, presto. A bonus for the company offering the right product for sale and brownie points for the host company that offers the opportunity.

Dominic Hart
Guest
Dominic Hart
11 years 9 months ago

Oh how they laughed when they called me Casandra….

Ask not how much will 1-800-Flowers’ business be helped or hurt by selling from its Facebook page, but rather how much Facebook will be helped or hurt?

Is it not now the case that Facebook can no longer be honestly described as a ‘social’ network?

George Anderson
Guest
George Anderson
11 years 9 months ago

This will help both Facebook and 1-800-Flowers in the short run. Longer term it will probably be Facebook’s undoing as consumers get fed up with its transition from a social media site to a social marketing one.

Cathy Hotka
Guest
11 years 9 months ago

HUGE. Kudos to the visionaries at FLOWERS to show everyone else how it’s done. Expect a scramble as other retailers try to catch up…there are few sites that users visit every day.

Don Delzell
Guest
Don Delzell
11 years 9 months ago
Yes, it makes sense to integrate shopping opportunities with a retail Facebook page. After all, anyone on Facebook actually visiting the 1-800-Flowers page is there because they are a potential shopper. However, I would like to challenge retailers to pursue this within the context and milieu of the social networking phenomenon itself. No offense to Flowers, but the page is dull, offers nothing in the form of social networking value or interest, and is simply yet another portal. The Flash app is great, not leaving Facebook is great, and the tech works. Unfortunately, there’s no reason to be on the page in the first place. If I want to shop, I can do so from the Flowers website. Some retailers (Walmart) have shown the willingness to understand and participate in the social networking era through the delivery of content and functionality that makes sense for that environment. Linking e-commerce within that delivery is a fantastic next step. This is not what Flowers has done. And they should have. Where is the support link on “the… Read more »
Doug Stephens
Guest
Doug Stephens
11 years 9 months ago

I think social media rules are being written based on what works–not on any hard and fast paradigms or conventions. Companies are finding consumer comfort zones through trial and error and experimentation. If people use this page to order flowers, it’s a good idea and other companies will likely follow suit.

It’s also not a highly complex purchase decision, which lends itself well to the Facebook page format.

The refreshing thing is that they’re being very upfront and honest about the positioning of the page. It’s not an order page dressed up to look like something else. It’s there to drive business and that’s OK.

We socialize at the mall and we buy stuff at the mall. I see plenty of room for integration of the two functions on Facebook.

Ralph Jacobson
Guest
11 years 9 months ago

It only makes sense. 1-800-Flowers and everyone else should explore all the media outlets they can. There are no rules–yet–so take advantage.

Mary Baum
Guest
Mary Baum
11 years 9 months ago
“The fact that Facebook tracks all of your friends’ birthdays, and with a click of the mouse, I’m assuming that 1-800-Flowers will be able to send flowers to those friends, we can’t forget the foundation of Social Media. Social Media is a platform in which people can maintain relationships with your friends.” You’d think, but: “No offense to Flowers, but the page is dull, offers nothing in the form of social networking value or interest, and is simply yet another portal.” Exactly. I went so far as to put something in the shopping cart, just to see if there would be any social functionality, and there isn’t. So, yes, it’s convenient to have 1-800-Flowers on the site if I happen to notice that my friend’s birthday or other occasion is coming up. But it would be even cooler if the shopping app integrated with my friend list after I added an item to my cart. So, Flowers, if I were you, I’d get on the stick with this and integrate fully with the functionality of… Read more »
Matt Hahn
Guest
Matt Hahn
11 years 9 months ago

Removing barriers to purchase is the best way to ensure more of them. Consumers are increasingly impatient and want instant gratification and ease of use. Also, impulse buys are more prevalent where they are easiest. Being able to make a purchase quick and easy increases the likelihood of more transactions. This is why many online retailers allow their users to have “one click” payment options. These strategies remove wait times and reduce the timeframe for a consumer to change their mind.

“Instant Consumerism” will become more and more important and integrating within the sites and places where the purchaser already is will be key to developing it.

John Bajorek
Guest
John Bajorek
11 years 9 months ago

1-800-Flowers continues to lead and innovate in terms of the channels that it uses to reach out to the customer. Whether a brand has a dedicated Facebook page, or simply a widget that can be embedded and shared, social media represents a good opportunity to reach current and new customers when and where they want to be reached. While social media isn’t for all companies and every company’s use of the web will differ between awareness and commerce, tools like Facebook Connect can help brand expand and manage their presence online.

Tim Henderson
Guest
Tim Henderson
11 years 9 months ago

More merchants are bound to follow the 1-800-Flowers lead. It’s smart retailing, i.e., using social networking sites as a buying channel. It’s highly unlikely the revenue stream will ever approach what merchants pocket via buying channels like stores and branded e-commerce sites, but this is an alternative retail channel that can’t and shouldn’t be ignored.

Bill Hanifin
Guest
11 years 9 months ago

Over one year ago, 1-800-Flowers made announcements that it was extending its existing loyalty program to Facebook by opening FB as a sales channel and linking the activity across channels to aggregate to the benefit of customers.

I have not see any discussion of this loyalty initiative in the current announcement and feel that, if not the loyalty program, the company must introduce one or more mechanisms to foster engagement.

In that sense, I agree with Mary Baum’s comments above and would encourage 1-800-Flowers to view their social media strategy as multi-dimensional, not just “we have a FB page that allows customers to purchase product.” I like the move, but creating the environment where visitors will become aware of the page, visit often, and make repeat purchases will be key to the longer term success of the company’s investment in social media.

Jeff Molander
Guest
Jeff Molander
11 years 9 months ago
Joel, Don and other voices of reason, I applaud you. Otherwise I cannot agree with anyone. 🙂 This excitement and “strategy” is misguided and illogical. Bloggers, trade media and “experts” would have us believe this is bold and innovative. Jim McCann and his otherwise brilliant team are busy taking the social media hype-and-spin bait and failing to innovate. This use of Facebook is a gratuitous one. It’s on a fast-track to nowhere. Facebook is NOT the e-commerce Holy Grail. No, not yet…not by a long shot today. The investment in a pop-up storefront on Facebook is a new idea? Nope, it’s a seriously old one. ePods, Affinia!, Nexchange, iMediation and a list of about a dozen other failed companies tried this and failed in the early 1990s. Nearly ever major publisher has tried to set up mini-storefronts using simple (affiliate marketing) to complex (drop-shipping) tech tools that link up sellers and publishers. Fail. Fail. Fail. Today’s economic climate must be considered. Yes–it DOES cost real money to experiment like this. No–MOST marketers CANNOT afford to… Read more »
John Crossman
Guest
John Crossman
11 years 9 months ago

I love this idea. Great way to connect with the customer and work with them where they are.

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