Express Goes All-In on Facebook

May 05, 2011

Express announced earlier this week that it was putting
its entire product catalog on Facebook so that its nearly 840,000 friends could
go shopping without ever having to leave the social media site.

Consumers on
the specialty apparel chain’s Facebook page can now simply
click the Shop Express tab and it’s a-shopping-they-can-go. Express has
incorporated many Facebook features such as the “Like” button into
its shopping feature. Consumers can also post comments, recommend products
to friends and post about their experience (and purchases) on their wall.

“Social commerce is the next step in our evolution as a retailer. We
continue to look for ways that the customer can interact with the brand on
their own schedule and at their convenience, so that we bring down as many
barriers as possible,” said
Jim Wright, sr. vice president, CRM and e-Commerce for Express. “Shopping
from our Facebook page is a natural way to help customers interact and share
their experience with our brand.”

Express on FacebookAccordng to a report on the Mashable site, retailers in the U.S. are
behind the Facebook commerce curve compared to merchants in the U.K. “Apparel
retailer ASOS made its entire 150,000-product catalog shippable on Facebook
in January, complete with product search and secure checkout, followed shortly
by another U.K. fashion retailer, Young British Designers.”

Another article
on Mashable reported that Tesco Clothing had generated over $3.2 million in
sales in the past year through its Facebook page in the U.K.

“Full ecommerce integration stands to benefit companies with a strong
or sole ecommerce focus, particularly independent or boutique firms looking
to stand apart from larger conglomerates,” Jessica Quillin, managing
director of Quillin Consulting, told Mashable. “The concept of a Facebook
store is to combine direct marketing and online shopping into a fully-tailored,
streamlined retail experience. Online fashion and luxury retailers, especially
those that sell high-end goods, are a natural fit for full ecommerce integration
simply because they cater to a sophisticated demographic with busy lives who
likely crave a more personalized, quick-access shopping experience.”

Discussion Questions: How much will putting its entire catalog on Facebook help Express in building incremental sales? How long before large numbers of retailers follow suit putting entire product catalogs on Facebook?

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11 Comments on "Express Goes All-In on Facebook"

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Dick Seesel
10 years 13 days ago

A terrific idea, and more evidence of the breakdown in boundary between social networking and e-commerce sites. Clearly anyone who has already “friended” Express is an interested follower of the brand. Expect to see more moves like this in the near future, although it does continue to compromise Facebook’s original mission.

Fabien Tiburce
Fabien Tiburce
10 years 13 days ago

I have mixed feelings about this.

1. As a netizen I find the notion of a “private internet” like a complete store on Facebook against my interest. Does it mean Facebook users are offered better deals? Why should I have to signup to a third party site to purchase from Express? Exclusivity is a double-edged sword.

2. Studies after studies have demonstrated that the vast majority of social networkers don’t log-in to Facebook to shop (and indeed do not shop when on the site). That’s why it’s called a “social” network, not a “mall.” I know that Facebook is enticing marketers to come in but that doesn’t mean the ROI will materialize in Facebook’s wall garden of commerce.

3. I get the “hype” associated with this much publicized move but would like to know the “economics” and ROI behind this decision.

Marge Laney
10 years 13 days ago

Giving customers access to brands when and where they want them is important. But for the apparel retailers, online sales are a problem due to high return rates. The latest industry average for online apparel returns is somewhere around 50%. Why so high? Fit issues. The hot new virtual fitting rooms are making a splash in the media, but they still leave a lot to be desired. Nothing beats the exactness of actually trying a garment on in a fitting room, or at home. Brick and mortar retailers need to place their selling emphasis on their in-store fitting room experience because that’s where their profitable customers are trying on clothes and making buying decisions.

Dan Frechtling
10 years 13 days ago

Through Facebook, retailers grow e-commerce through availability and conversion. Just being present (as Marge suggests) stimulates sales, and enabling the checkout experience on Facebook increases completion.

Retailers regularly experiment…

*Starting with publishing a Facebook page and advertising
*Progressing to Facebook-only offers and other ways to track influence
*Extending into publishing catalogs and enabling shopping within the news feed

Publishing product catalogs is downstream. Given the early stage of F-commerce, retailers are best served to think of the upstream ways to spur availability and conversion first.

Bill Hanifin
10 years 13 days ago

Building “on platform” sales on Facebook is the most significant and attainable aspect of F-commerce for most retailers. With so much traffic building on the social network, merchants want to avoid having to ask customers to take the increasingly big and undesirable step of switching from Facebook to the marketer’s site to complete a purchase.

Migrating the payment method to using Facebook Credits is a higher hurdle to clear. To date, most of the F-commerce taking place is based on “real” currency. I question the benefits of selling airline tickets, clothes, or pizza with the alternate currency.

Gene Detroyer
10 years 13 days ago

What is the downside? Though the Express site is on Facebook, it is clearly a commercial site. (As are other company sites on Facebook.) Nobody is being fooled that this is something unique or Express is especially “friendly.”

Social sites are controlled by the user. If people want to access Express from Facebook because it is easy, why not? From what I can tell, when you click on the options, it takes you to anyway.

It is simply another location for Express and will probably generate more business than a new store.

Gordon Arnold
10 years 13 days ago

Facebook is no more than an advertising means. It should be understood and used the same way as a billboard and or a TV or radio commercial. The one nice thing is the ability to interact with the customer in return for paid orders. For this to be successful for any company choosing to enter, there must be an in-depth understanding of the media’s demographics within given time spots as well as fresh, entertaining advertising relevant to the audience. While most might agree with this, few have properly explored and exploited it with large success.

Larry Negrich
10 years 13 days ago

This is not a gamble at all for Express. I’m surprised that more retailers have not adopted this channel more swiftly. The difficult facets of adopting this channel will be differentiation from other retailers on this channel, effectively utilizing all social media to drive traffic, measurement, and, for retailers with older systems and infrastructure, tying it all together. But getting the technology aligned is the challenge that all retailers who want to compete on omni-channel retail stage must master.

Craig Sundstrom
10 years 13 days ago


Too vague…OK, then, it will generate less than the huge numbers Social Media fans claim, but more than naysayers like me will grudgingly admit.

As was pointed out in a story here several days ago, SM generates something like 2% of sales, so this is probably in the “can’t hurt but won’t help (much)” category.

Tony Orlando
10 years 13 days ago

The idea is great, and if managed properly, will create additional business, at very little cost. It will still require someone to monitor the site full time, in order to answer concerns of potential buyers. I see this as nothing but positive.

nikki sumrow
nikki sumrow
10 years 12 days ago

This is nothing new. JCPenney, for example, has been doing this for a while now.


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