Sierra Trading Post recently joined the legion of brands with e-commerce-enabled Facebook pages. That the retailer added a Facebook commerce site is not entirely novel; the first Facebook store launched in 2009. Yet, Sierra Trading Post noted that its existing Facebook following played a primary role in the Facebook store’s initial success, including the doubling of the typical conversion rate it experiences on its regular e-commerce site.
“We opened the Facebook shop because that’s where the customers are, and that’s where conversation is happening, and we want to make it as convenient as possible for people to shop our products and continue to build our Facebook following,” said Juliette Rule, social media manager at Sierra Trading Post, which worked with social commerce vendor Adgregate Markets on their Facebook store.
Jake Wengroff, global director of social media strategy and research at Frost & Sullivan, noted that a primary problem faced by retailers looking to launch Facebook stores is consumers’ privacy concerns.
To assuage concerns, Sierra Trading Post recruited their customers to help the store’s roll out. “In the first week and a half of announcing the shop, we asked for customer and fan feedback, and we certainly got quite a bit of it,” said Rule. The feedback cited mostly minor bugs, but the impact from that engagement may have been major. Since launching its Facebook store February 14, Sierra Trading Post has experienced 6.25% conversion rates, double the conversion rate of the company’s traditional e-commerce site.
Those impressive conversion rates might rise further because of Facebook’s promotional power. Among Adgregate Markets’ clients the post-store launch wall posts generate “on average 1,673% spikes in store traffic.”
Mike Tran, Web technology specialist at Sierra Trading Post, said he expects the ripple effect of Facebook’s share function, which the company has integrated into its Facebook store, to drastically increase impression and conversion rates. “The Facebook site will help us reach more new clients and bring in additional revenue,” said Tran. Sierra Trading Company won’t be the only one reaping the benefits from having an e-commerce-enabled Facebook page. Booz & Company estimates that the revenue from hard goods sold through social media will increase 1,400% between 2011 and 2015.
Not all would-be Facebook retailers will share Sierra Trading Post’s success, cautioned Wengroff. He said that Facebook stores are better suited to specialty retailers, such as Sierra Trading Post than to big-box companies because social commerce requires high levels of engagement with consumers.
“When you’re a specialty retailer, you have a specialty community. A specialty community is going to be very engaged,” said Wengroff. “A specialty retail sale probably needs a lot more dialogue, a lot more discussion, a lot more information in order for that sale to take place. So if someone decides they want to buy skis for $1,000 online, to make that $1,000 sale happen, there’s going to be a lot of back-and-forth. And Facebook’s great for that.”