Fluid Helps Promote E-Commerce for Brands on Facebook

Fluid is an interactive agency founded 15 years ago and  focused on e-commerce for nine years ago, but new to Facebook, having launched in e-commerce application in January. The company primarily works with big brands on Facebook — Coach, Nine West and Pottery Barn — with the idea of helping those companies provide unique shopping opportunities for their Facebook fans. As

Here’s a closer look at what the company has done so far on Facebook, part of our ongoing profile of e-commerce applications (we most recently looked at Payvment). While social shopping hasn’t yet been a big hit on Facebook, the attention that more brands and service companies are giving the area now could lead to more success.

Fluid shared some numbers with us from one of its clients, Jones Apparel group, which has set up several Fluid Facebook stores. On a three-day fan shop for its Rachel Roy brand, the products exclusive to Facebook sold out in six hours, and the Page added 1.5 new fans a minute in the first 24 hours, which doubled the size of their Page by the end of the week.

“You basically need to provide an offer, something unique and compelling to get people into your store, as well as to share it,” Brian Biggs, director of product management at Fluid tells us. One example is that Coach recently launched their new line, Poppy, for younger customers on Facebook in an effort to drive Likes and interest; other examples have been pre-sales, curated sales, Facebook-only deals and other exclusive content, Biggs adds.

Fluid uses the Like button on its e-commerce shops to encourage virality, Biggs explains. Retailers are still experimenting on Facebook and very interested in ROI, which is one reason Fluid’s payment system usually defaults to the retailers’ web site. Biggs says the company is open to using Credits in the future.

You usually have to Like a Page in order to shop. Then, instead of simply seeing tons of thumbnails of products, the products are arranged by “Looks,” or into groups. Let’s take Pottery Barn Teen’s Page as an example. Because it’s back-to-school season the Shop PBdorm tab is host to a handful of variously styled college dorm rooms; the user clicks on one of the “looks” they like and are taken to a page featuring those products.

Scrolling over each product yields more information and the price; click on that item and you’re on another page where you can zoom, change the size or color and add to your shopping bag. On this page there are thumbnails of the other “looks” at the bottom and of other items on the right-hand side. An icon tells you how many items are in your shopping bag, to purchase you have to click over to the retailer’s web site; your item can stay in the shopping bag for several weeks (depending on the retailers’ preference) but you have to use a different bag for each Fluid store (because of the payment arrangement).

Shoppers can use Facebook’s Like button to share either an entire look or a specific item in their stream.

Setting up your own Fluid e-commerce shop on Facebook seems pretty straightforward, at least according to a demonstration Biggs shared with us. Admin tools include adding your preferred Like button, Google Analytics and Facebook Insights and the ability to redo your Page pretty easily (although Fluid also helps its clients with more specific formatting issues).

You can set up a Flash landing page if you choose, add zoom and other options in addition to other types of menus. Then you can import your products via a CSV file, add images, alter prices, change the display for each product and then add layers. Part of Fluid’s very visual photo-oriented app is that retailers make the photos part of the catalog, which is to say, scrolling over an image pops out product info like the price. To make an image part of a layer you simply outline it with the mouse, select what info you want to pop out, and you’re good to go.

Fluid trains retailers in their app, but usually initially sets up their Facebook shop in-house. In the near future Fluid tells us e-commerce on Facebook will take the next step and become more mobile compatible by addressing Flash. After this mobile integration, Biggs tells us that touch devices, such as iPads, will be their next target.