July 11, 2012, 4:17 PM

An ice cream retailer is cool with Tumblr

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream aims to build a community on the blogging platform.

Lead Photo

Tumblr is a place where consumers discover new things—including new products and brands, says Ryan Morgan, community manager for multichannel retailer Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams.

That’s ideal for Jeni’s, because the retailer’s internal creative team produces a slew of vivid images, such as of a gallon of its canary-hued mango lassi ice cream, and other content that doesn’t necessarily have a place on its web site. Posting that content on Tumblr, where consumers can reblog others’ postings, helps the brand’s name recognition grow organically. “Tumblr gives us an outlet to have fun by putting out great content and getting people excited about our brand,” says Morgan.

Jeni’s began its Tumblr campaign last month, and Morgan and his colleagues figured that while consumers are looking at Jeni’s content, they might as well be able to buy its ice cream. The multichannel retailer—Jeni’s sells through 11 of its own shops in Ohio and Tennessee, other stores and online—worked with social commerce vendor Coexist Digital to enable consumers to buy on Tumblr.  

Certain posts by the retailer have a Buy Now on Tumblr button that, when clicked, open a window with an Add to Cart button. The checkout process occurs entirely within Tumblr. Coexist Digital takes a 3% share of each sale on Tumblr.

While retailers using Facebook as a selling platform have largely fallen flat, Morgan says that selling on Tumblr is different because Tumblr is about discovery. “We suspect that many people who come across us on Tumblr aren’t familiar with our brand, which could present a challenge when a pint of ice cream costs $12,” he says. “But if we have interesting, unique products on there, they just might.” In addition to individual pints of flavors like roasted strawberry buttermilk, consumers can buy Jeni’s ice cream collections that focus around themes, like the British royal wedding.

Jeni’s sold about $1 million on its web site last year. Morgan doubts that its Tumblr’s sales will add much to that total. However, if it can produce incremental sales and give the brand exposure it will prove valuable. “We don’t have a lot of skin in the game,” he says. “If it helps us to build a community that can spread word about our products, that’s a win for us too.”

While Morgan says it is too early to report on the sales generated through Tumblr, it has already helped the brand gain followers. The first day it launched on Tumblr it added 100 fans on the social network. 

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