Go Smile, where I’m General Manager of eCommerce, was featured in the Jill’s Steals and Deals segment of the Today Show in late 2010. Obviously, this was huge in many ways – the traffic spike was unbelievable. The website was almost instantly brought to its knees.

I’d been talking to the folks at Infused Commerce about their Facebook Store solution, and reached out to them to see if we could get something live quickly enough to help serve the massive number of folks coming to the site as a result of the Today Show deal. Keep in mind, this was short term demand – the deal was supposed to last 24 hours, and although we had upgraded our servers in preparation for the traffic, it wasn’t enough. We were turning away site visitors – a bad experience for would-be customers, and a loss of opportunity in terms of new customers, email signups and brand reputation.

Incredibly, the guys at Infused were able to get our Facebook shop live within hours. We posted the link on our temporary home page, and by the end of the day had processed a huge number of orders through the Facebook store – almost twenty times our normal daily website order volume in a single day. The launch was a resounding success, and really helped mitigate the poor experience experienced by some folks having issues ordering on the main site.

Unfortunately, due to some issues we ran into while trying to integrate with our fulfillment partner (who will remain nameless) we had to take the store down temporarily. We thought it’d be down for a few weeks at the most, but due to a an ridiculous comedy of delays and freakouts from the fulfillment company, it took months to make the integration happen.

We finally launched the Go Smile Facebook store again last week. We haven’t been pushing it much just yet – taking a few orders and watching for issues with the fulfillment integration. But I’m planning some excellent campaigns very soon – this is a powerful tool to drive not only orders and revenue, but fan count and engagement. More to come on that soon.

Right now, the Infused Facebook shop application works in typical product feed fashion – very simple. The store itself is a Flash app that lives in an FBML tab on your company’s Facebook page. If you’ve sold stuff or advertised on Amazon, you’ll be able to set up your Facebook shop in your sleep. The Infused team sets up the store with your brand colors – you just need to provide some basic files like a logo and a “front door” image along with your product feed, and you’re ready to roll. The orders are pulled from a secure URL. Easy peasy.

I can’t say enough nice things about the Infused team. While the curent beta version of the Facebook shop sports a pretty basic feature set, they’re moving fast – they’ve made vast improvements to the product since I first talked to them a few months ago. There are other companies doing this, but it’s been a pleasure working with them. It’s a classic startup story – they’re new and hungry, with a small agile team capable of moving very quickly. Their customer service has been excellent, and they’re attentive to our needs. They eat up feature requests like candy, and in some cases stuff I’ve asked for has shown up a few hours later! The pricing is excellent, too – less than most companies give up to affiliates, and there’s no commitment.

Small brands – this is an easy, effective way to make your Facebook page a powerful tool in your customer acquisition toolbox. The buy-in is very small, and implementation is incredibly easy and fast. Do it now!

Today, TechCrunch called out some numbers from the folks over at JiWire that quantify how far people are willing to travel to get higher levels of discounts. Wait – people will travel further for bigger discounts? No way!

Kidding aside… first, this overly simplified take on the data makes me think a lot of people way undervalue their time. 40 percent of respondents will travel up to an hour for a 40% discount on a $100 item? People – haven’t you heard of Woot?

Second, while the implications of this are pretty obvious for location-based promotions, I’d love to see some data that tells the story of how much “work” people will do in exchange for incentives online. How many friends’ email addresses will Joe sell out share in exchange for more vegetables for their virtual farm? How many completely irrelevant offers will Franklin click on to build up points for a gift card? How many times will Susie refresh a page to get a free sample worth less than a buck? What are the incentives required to get engaged users of your product to enthusiastically tell their friends?

I ran a promo in late 2010 where a beauty product that’s normally $89 was offered on an extremely high profile national TV show for just $10. The resulting traffic to the website was roughly 500 times average. The site slowed to a crawl, and would-be customers had difficulty purchasing. One of the most amazing things about this offer was the number of people who complained angrily via Facebook and the more traditional customer service channels that they’d been “refreshing for ten hours” to make the purchase. Important feedback, and very helpful in understanding the level of emotional investment in the product, but the time investment people were willing to give up was way higher than I’d have suspected. The vocal folks in this case were a small minority compared to the overall sales, and I think it’s important to not place too much value on the anecdotal information. Still, ten hours of refreshing to save $79 on a non-essential cosmetic product?

Surj Gish attending SMX West← Check out my spiffy badge – I just registered for SMX West. Are you going? Let me know and we’ll hang out.

I’m looking forward to this conference. I went last year, and it was very good: good sessions, good folks, and a good time watching Steve Ballmer get a little nutty in the keynote conversation with Danny Sullivan.

While working at SkinStore, I became a bit of a manly skin care product whore. OK, so maybe “whore” is a bit too strong, but I do have a small set of products I like and stick to pretty religiously. One of these is Razor Burn Repair by Anthony Logistics For Men, basically a post-shave moisturizer – very soothing. I have very sensitive skin, and this stuff works wonders.

I usually order from SkinStore, but I’ve been actively ordering directly from brand websites lately, to get a feel for the experiences they offer and see what they’re up to. So I ordered some Razor Burn Repair directly from Anthony.com on 9.21.10.

I like the Anthony website – I think it does a decent job of infusing the experience with founder Anthony’s personality without being ridiculous.  But I got a surprise when I reached the checkout flow. Shipping was expensive – $9.11 for a single four ounce bottle! I really felt like that was excessive and almost bailed out, but I bit the bullet so I could check out the customer experience.

Photo of order from Anthony.com - they sent me their waste!

Come on, guys - For $9.11 in shipping I shouldn't have to handle your trash for you!

I got the package 8 days later. Not cool, considering lots of sites ship for less and get me my goods much faster. Even worse, Anthony uses old style peanuts – messy and not biodegradable, and the product was wrapped in a bubble wrap bag. And while I appreciate the personal touch of a packer’s signature on the inside of the box, presumably verifying correct products, I’m surprised and bemused that they decided to send me the garbage my order generated too.

All kidding aside, this kind of thoughtless, wasteful packing and shipping always bothers me, enough to discourage me from ordering again. It’s far too prevalent in the ecommerce world.  And Anthony could do a better job of optimizing shipping costs and time.

Written on September 30th, 2010 , eCommerce, eCommerce Reviews Tags: , , ,

© 2013 Surj's House of Awesome

Surj's House of Awesome

Surj Gish – eCommerce & Online Marketing Expert / Gearhead / Musician