Retail TouchPoints: J.C. Penney Extends E-Commerce Functionality with New Facebook Application
By Amanda Ferrante
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion
is a summary of a current article from the Retail TouchPoints website.
Penney announced last week that customers will be able to purchase items directly
from its Facebook fan page, without having to click through to jcpenney.com.
retailers have been capitalizing on the thriving communities within Facebook
and Twitter for customer engagement, Penney is among the first to dabble in
directly linking Facebook to sales. In July 2009, 1-800-Flowers.com earned
credit for becoming the first retailer to launch a Facebook storefront, although
it wasn’t until February 2010 that consumers could purchase items directly
from its news feed (the community aspect of the page) without leaving the page.
new integration will support a full e-commerce experience within the retailer’s
Facebook page, including add-to-cart and checkout, among other key functionalities.
By utilizing the "Shop" tab on Penney’s
Facebook page, users can search all products currently included in Penney’s
product pages. Shoppers also can "Like" and share items and purchases
with their friends within the community.
Industry analysts agree that social
media usage is closely correlated to shopping.
"Social media is impacting retail buying patterns year-over-year," said
Chris Brogan, president, Human Business Works, an online education and community
company for small businesses and solo entrepreneurs. "As each year progresses,
the percentage of people who say they made buying decisions based on conversations
via social networks keeps growing. Whether you’re ready to participate, your
customers are already doing so."
While small- to mid-sized retailers have
leveraged technologies like Ecwid, Milyoni and Payvment to drive purchases
within their Facebook pages, Penney is one of the first leading retailers to
leverage a fully functional Facebook storefront.
"Retail is no longer about just getting a customer to walk into a physical
location," said Lori Schafer, executive advisor to SAS Retail and co-author
of ‘Branded! How Retailers Engage Consumers with Social Media and Mobility.’
"It’s about being wherever that customer is. You’ve got to bring your store
to where that customer likes to spend time. The biggest benefits come from
cross-channel engagement — reaching consumers wherever they are spending
their time so that they can find the products and services they specifically
"With over 1.3 million friends and growing, our Facebook page remains
a vital tool for engaging our customers as they explore and share the JCPenney
brand," said Tom Nealon, group EVP, Penney, in a press announcement. "By
introducing commerce capability, we are able to take our Facebook experience
to the next level, providing convenient features that encourage social integration
and user contribution as our customers shop."
Discussion Questions: What’s the likelihood that Facebook will soon become
known more as a direct selling tool for retailers rather than a marketing
tool? What challenges does the social network tool face as an e-commerce