ShopIgniter announced today that is launching a social commerce platform on Facebook that give brands a direct way to do business with customers. With what they're calling Enterprise Social Commerce Platform, the new tool will help brands offer a variety of purchasing opportunities such as flash sales, group gifting, and new product launches.
Kevin Tate, ShopIgniter's CMO, explained it like this: suppose you're a company that has some leftover merchandise from a promotion. You're trying to figure out what to do with the extra product and then - voilà! - something like ShopIgniter's social commerce platform comes along. Now you have a tool that allows you to engage consumers on Facebook by creating a flash sale through the use of the platform. You can decide how long you want the sale to last and, perhaps most alluring for brands, there's no need to work through a middle-man retailer. Before you know it, all of that merchandise that was previously just taking up space is now being sold.
See the screen cap below of what such a flash sale looks like on Nike Golf's Facebook page.
One of the more novel approaches of the ShopIgniter platform is the idea of group gift buying. Again, an example: let's say that Secretary's Day is next week and you buddy up with some colleagues to purchase a gift for your secretary. By using the ShopIgniter's app on Facebook, your group can all chip-in individually on the gift you want to buy. The system uses Facebook's built-in friend lists and messages to coordinate the purchasing flow and then processes multiple contributions as a single transaction.
"Group gifting is a good example of an inherently social buying experience,” Tate said in a statement. “We have learned a lot from our customers about what works best in social commerce, one of them being: customers in a social environment expect and respond to engaging, authentic and effective experiences, such as the ability to simplify the gift-giving experience.”
Target was an early adopter to the group gifting concept, as you can see from their Facebook page below.
The app is built on Facebook's Open Graph and uses all of the permissions inherent to that feature. That said, any published info from the use of ShopIgniter's platform will have to be approved by the user (much like other apps require). To emphasize the concern for user privacy on Facebook, Tate added, "We wanted to be careful not to ask for too many permissions from Facebook users."
As for the security of users' financial information, ShopIgniter acknowledges the continuing concern among social network users when it comes to making purchases through Facebook. To meet that concern, ShopIgniter assures consumers that the company is one of the only social commerce developers authorized to meet the security needs of large retailers and brands. With that lofty distinction, ShopIgniter is able to certify that any vendor that uses the social commerce platform will have a PCI Level 1 certification - a mandatory security level for merchants who process high volumes of credit card transactions - and help keep customers' financial and purchasing information secure.
For those of you out there on Facebook who're hoping to ease the burden of buying gifts for those upcoming events, ShopIgniter's group buying option should come as a boon when making those purchases. At least then if the gift is poorly received you can reliably blame your buying collaborators for their poor taste.