February 12, 2010, 12:00 AM

1-800-Flowers.com shifts its Facebook store strategy

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, 1-800-Flowers.com is changing its Facebook store. The retailer is now allowing shoppers to make purchases directly on their Facebook news feed, which is the first page Facebook users see when they log on to the site.

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1-800-Flowers.com Inc. was the first retailer to launch a store on Facebook last July. Now it’s also among the first to realize that selling on Facebook requires a call to action.

When its Facebook store launched, the store was one of 15 tabs on the page. “Our customers had to come find us,” says Kevin Randford, director of web marketing.

Although he says engagement was “good” (Randford declined to disclose sales), after only seven months the retailer felt it needed to increase the visibility of its sales.

This week, just in time for Valentine’s Day, it shifted its approach. 1-800-Flowers, which worked with Minneapolis ad network and e-commerce applications developer Alvenda Inc. to develop its Facebook e-commerce functionality, is now pushing out special offers that feature select items to its fans’ news feeds. Fans can complete a purchase without leaving the news feed.

“Users come to Facebook to do certain things, like update their statuses and engage with friends,” he says. “Buying things may not be the foremost of what they’re looking to do. But if we engage them where they already are, it seems like an obvious way to change that.”

Before the change buying something via the 1-800-Flowers Facebook store required a shopper to find the retailer’s Facebook fan page. That was no easy task since a Facebook search of “1-800-Flowers” brings up 73 groups and eight pages. Even once he found the page, he had to find the store’s tab.

With 1-800-Flowers’ new approach, every fan of the retailer can see and immediately act upon its offers without leaving the page. A click on the offer expands the window into a fully functioning shopping space where a shopper can enter in all his pertinent information. If he wants to buy something else from the retailer, he can click on a button that redirects him to the 1-800-Flowers Facebook store that features around 10% of the company’s inventory. And, when a fan engages with the offer-by making a purchase or clicking the site’s “like” button-his friends can see that activity.

Randford says the retailer expects to see significant growth in its Facebook sales as a result of the change.

1-800-Flowers is No. 31 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide (a PDF version of the company’s financial and operating profile can be ordered by clicking on its name).

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