Nine West tightened the gap between e-commerce and its Facebook presence yesterday when it launched a rich-media shopping app on the social media site. The Jones Apparel-owned brand is offering designer Fred Allard's accessories line from its spring catalog with a Facebook-exclusive 15 percent discount through February.
Digital shopping vendor Fluid Inc. developed Nine West's app, dubbed "Lookbook," which can only be accessed by users who are "fans." The retailer has inserted a "Shop Lookbook" tab at the top of Facebook.com/NineWest.
"Fans" who click the tab can browse numerous products via the Flash-enabled app and then add items to a shopping bag (though the product data is being stored at Nine West's e-commerce site). Once items are added, users see a "Go To Shopping Bag" button in the upper right-hand corner of the app. Click-throughs produce a separate window containing Nine West's standard checkout with the selected products preloaded on the page.
The Lookbook user experience is akin to Flash catalogs of recent years. Status updates on the social site and an e-mail to the brand's opt-in list have been used to promote the effort. Creating sales isn't the only objective, according to Nine West's prepared release, as the brand is also looking to improve upon its 44,000 "fans."
The initiative comes on the heels of Jones Apparel brand Rachel Roy's successful one-day test on Feb. 9. The fashion designer brand offered a slew of Facebook-exclusive, limited-edition products that sold out in roughly six hours. During the 24-hour period, Rachel Roy increased its Facebook numbers by 38 percent - from around 8,800 "fans" to more than 12,100.
New York-based Jones Apparel's decision to run the Nine West effort had nothing to do with the Rachel Roy deployment, said Andy Lloyd, CEO of the San Francisco-based Fluid. He explained that the two initiatives were planned side-by-side, with the second one being imminent even if the first flopped.
Somewhat surprisingly, Lloyd acknowledged that Facebook's often territorial patrons - who tend to frown on commercial-oriented developments - may not fit some retailers' marketing needs. "I would say that it isn't [for every retail brand]," he said. "One of the things I think we will see is that retailers are still in the stage where they are trying new things [on Facebook]. And this is a fairly new thing."
Indeed, few major retailers have tested how close than can get to transactional e-commerce without breaking Facebook's rules. For instance, notable catalogers like JC Penney, Lillian Vernon, Cabela's, and Land's End have yet to incorporate Flash-catalog-like apps on their "fan" pages.
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Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.
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