Alvenda Inc., a Minneapolis-based startup, has innovated the e-commerce scenario by creating Banner Based Stores, display advertising materials that pose as a online store for their clients — an innovative and definitely different approach towards e-commerce as it allows a store to be where the consumers are instead of trying to drag them into their website which has to be done by gaining their confidence, getting them to visit you and having a really good product.
So now they’ve decided to go one step forward by developing fully functioning retail stores in Facebook. Facebook already has a currency that is used to buy virtual gifts and is slowly evolving into a semi-Pay Pal system that allows more complex offline shopping to occur – but the fact is that in order for the e-commerce capabilities of Facebook to evolve, companies have to find a way to play with all the capabilities Facebook has to offer at the moment and build up a proper E-Commerce strategy with real added value for the Facebook-using consumer. This has to be done, of course, taking into account the nature of Social Media and the seriousness (or lack of) that it has in the eyes of the consumer.
And in comes a rather recent concept – Social Shopping. Shopping is by nature a social act. Shopping online always had a few issues – the fact that you can’t see the actual product (not solvable) and the fact that you can’t exactly take your friends or family to help you choose. So Alvenda is bringing a solution to this second fact by bringing the shop to where the consumers are and, if they properly use the tools Facebook has, they will enable users to share their shopping or wishlists with other users directly on Facebook.
The sheer potential of the Social Shopping is still far from explored. While brands can look at this with some skepticism, marketers should to be able to design a strategy that, if necessary, can look into a first dwelling in Social Shopping. A very basic and test-oriented dwelling, of course. Like in any new tool, the first approach should be cautious but not too basic.
Let’s see how Alvenda’s approach to Social Shopping works out. We do not expect massive results at first and we know that some cards might be playing against them – not many users consider Facebook as a Shopping Mall and still look at it more as a toy than a serious website. But take this into account – the nature that the Social Network is acquiring goes beyond a profile page and more into the building of an online persona where more users each day invest more time. Not only this, but more brands and companies are building microsites for promotions inside Facebook. So the odds for Alvenda’s are pretty good – let’s see what happens…