December 16, 2011, 3:23 PM

Social shopping comes to Fab.com

The flash seller's feed allows shoppers to see what others are saying, buying and sharing.

Lead Photo

Fab.com's social shopping news feed

Flush with $40 million in cash it raised last week, flash sale retailer Fab.com added a new feature to its site today that allows shoppers to view, share and comment on what others are buying.

Fab.com’s new social feed is one of the initiatives the retailer has in the works aimed at capitalizing on the changing way people are shopping, founder and CEO Jason Goldberg says. “Amazon is e-commerce 1.0, with more than 10 years’ worth of products on a site. What we’re moving toward now is e-commerce 2.0, which is more about discovery and browsing,” Goldberg says. “We are more about replicating the offline shopping experience that is very much about social commerce and shopping along with other people.”

The new Feed section of the site has hundreds of small boxes that feature product photos and brief notes attached to a time stamp, such as, “A Fab user bought I Love NY More Than Ever Print” one minute ago or, “lorikgator faved Wit Don’t Tell Me Tocky Clock” six minutes ago. In each box, Fab members are able to “fave” items by clicking a Heart icon, much as consumers click Facebook’s Like button. All “faves” and purchases are tracked continuously, so the Tocky Clock box showed, for example, that the clock had secured about 29 “faves” and nine purchases by 11 a.m. Central today. Shoppers also are able to comment on others’ “faves” or purchases.

At the top of the Feed page, Fab.com asks members to choose whether they want their screen names to appear with their updates. If they opt out of revealing their identity, “A Fab User” will appear with the post.

The thinking behind the new feature is great, says Paul Dyer of WCG World, a social media consulting firm. But the key going forward will be whether or not Fab is able to sort and highlight products based on each shopper's preferences. "The life or death of this new approach will ultimately come down to Fab’s ability to cut through the noise and fill my feed with relevant recommendations," he says.

Fab.com, which sells home décor and other design-focused products, has approximately 1.4 million members. It launched in June and took in 100,000 orders in November, Goldberg says. Also, since getting into mobile commerce two months ago via its iPad, iPhone and Android apps, more than 20% of its revenue comes from mobile devices.

In addition to further plans with social media, Fab.com plans to use its $40 million in funding to expand internationally and into new product categories. “Today if you go on Fab, there are about 3,000 SKUs on the site each day,” Goldberg says. “We want tens of thousands of products.” The retailer currently drop ships about 70% of its merchandise, but plans to reduce that amount as it takes more control over customer service.

Internet Retailer editors selected Fab.com to be included in its Hot 100 list, an annual compilation of the most innovative e-retailers. Order your copy of this special issue here.

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