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A new platform with enhanced social action buttons will launch today that aims to transform the notion of social commerce, or s-commerce.
Wade Gerten, founder and chief executive officer of technology solution 8thBridge, has spent the past year developing the platform, called Graphite. The software-as-a-service business model operates on a monthly fee basis and allows fashion and luxury brands to leverage social media without giving up brand control. It can also be integrated with existing channels and, for the first time, users can create shareable experiences outside the confines of Facebook.
First-adopters of the new platform include Oscar de la Renta, Nine West, Toms, Avon, American Apparel, Nasty Gal and Elle magazine.
Gerten has been vocal about the fact that it is people — and not brands — that drive social commerce. He told WWD in February that 90 percent of the shopping activity on Facebook stems from customers sharing products, offers and purchases with their friends. Because of this, he encourages brands to integrate their Web sites with Facebook’s new Open Graph technology.
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Until now, 100 percent of all social commerce was conducted on Facebook — which is why industry experts say Facebook commerce, or F-commerce — or, more broadly, s-commerce — hasn’t really taken off. This is because, for multichannel brands, there are significantly fewer people engaging on their Facebook pages compared with their digital flagships.
“The funny thing is that if you added this number up, about 99 percent of [a company’s] interactions with the customer are not on Facebook,” Gerten said, adding they instead are on brands’ own Web sites.
Gerten believes s-commerce has also failed to take off thus far due to lack of visibility. It’s hard for customers to find social shareable offers which, again, could relate to lack of traffic; in order to find such offers, users have to go to a brand’s Facebook page.
This is where Graphite enters the equation.
On the product side, there’s normally been a Facebook branded “like” button and a Twitter button beside an item on an e-commerce site. Now, enhanced social-action buttons exist that can be unique to participating brands. For Gerten, the “like” button wasn’t expressive enough, as 57 percent of product “likers” already owned the product.
This means that Nine West, American Apparel and Elle magazine will implement buttons on Graphite such as “want,” “own” or “love”; e-tailer Nasty Gal’s social action buttons will read “Neeed,” with three “e’s,” “Gimme” and “<3 <3 <3” upon its Graphite launch in the next week, and Hallmark Cards will have brand-appropriate buttons that say “Tearing Up,” “Love,” “Smile” and “LOL.”
“If you press the ‘want’ button, then we share the fact that you want that red dress and post it to your timeline on Facebook, and then Facebook distributes [this information] to all of your friends and it shows up in your friends’ news feeds. It unleashes a whole bunch of people who want to share you with their friends,” Gerten said.
Additionally, it makes it easy for a marketer to test and try buttons with varying messages and figure out which ones get the most sharing from their customers. According to Gerten, it’s how the information gets shared that’s never been done before.
Normally, what gets shared is a link, but a link means users have to leave Facebook to check out a product, which they are reluctant to do. With Graphite, clicking on a social action button takes users to a shared, “shoppable story” — which 8thBridge estimates will receive nearly 18 times more views versus a link.
“If you press ‘play,’ a small branded store opens and you can zoom in on the item and see related products and you can shop and browse without leaving Facebook, but when you’re ready to commit, it takes you back to the brand’s digital flagship where you can finalize the transaction,” Gerten said of the “shoppable story” powered by 8thBridge (the brand can change the creative in the shoppable story through the Graphite dashboard).
Originally, 8thBridge had the point of purchase located on Facebook, too, since the team thought it added value to have checkouts occur on the medium. But after conducting research, they found that 82 percent of people buying on Facebook aren’t comfortable doing that yet.
“If you really want to scale up social and really monetize social media, it has to be more integrated than it has been,” Gerten said.