There was a lot of fuss earlier last week about JCPenney's new Facebook application, allowing users to shop their entire online catalog within their fan page. Delta Airlines and Carnival Cruises have taken similar courses of action, allowing fans to book reservations via Facebook. JCPenney's move is a decent one. I look at it as a sort of digital franchising. Their potential customers may not take the time to go to JCPenney's online store at their home website, so JCPenney brought the store to a potential audience of over half-billion people. The Facebook app created an additional place to sell their goods and separates them from their competition in that regard.
Then why am I not completely impressed?
Things like Facebook Fan Pages are forms of online loyalty programs. The most successful fan pages offer their members features and/or options that are exclusive to them alone. Many of these things involve sneak peeks at limited video content or more importantly...coupons. Over 31% of fans take the time to click a "Like" button because they want to get access to coupons or exclusive content. JCPenney's new shopping app really doesn't do this.
The most discussed redeeming feature of their new Facebook store is the "Share"button under each item. Supposedly this is one of the great things about the new shopping app. Couldn't the same be achieved by placing a Facebook share button on their normal website? Not that innovative to me from a marketing standpoint.
I'm a fan of constructive criticism, so how would I suggest this decent idea be made even better?
As it stands now, the new Facebook store is just an exact replica of the current online store in terms of pricing and product selection. This feels counterintuitive to me. Since most fans are on to get some sort of deal, JCPenney could offer deeper discounts to their Facebook loyalists than they would the casual online shopper. A smaller product selection would also be more efficient. I would suggest JCPenney offering deals on certain product lines for limited times that often switch. With a frequent change in offerings and discounts, activity on your fan page and application would likely increase, giving those fans an incentive to keep returning and interacting with the fan page.
Also, if JCPenney was bent on keeping their entire catalog online, they could offer a different type of buying option: Facebook credits. Through social gaming, the usage of Facebook Credits has risen exponentially. Brick and mortar establishments have even begun to sell these credits in a gift card format. If Facebook users have credits available, wouldn't it make sense to allow your loyal fans the option of using Facebook Credits as part of their purchase? To open up a store on Facebook, I would think that effort would be best maximized if that company accepted ALL forms of Facebook currency.
These are just a few suggestions to improve the effectiveness of opening a Facebook store. While these are cool and new, I don't see them as a necessity yet.
What do you all think. Are the above suggestions valid? Am I way off base? What other suggestions do you all have for future ventures like this?
- JC Penney opens full-fledged "shop and share" Facebook store (seattlepi.com)
- JC Penney Launches Facebook Retail Shop (penn-olson.com)
- J.C. Penney Opens Complete Store Within Facebook (fastcompany.com)