December 11, 2012, 12:09 PM

Fab.com leads the pack in social commerce

The retailer has the top score among retail brands in a new report.

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Fab.com has gone a long way toward solving the riddle of making money from social media. 24% of the flash-sale retailer’s traffic comes from shoppers clicking directly from social networks and half of its new customer acquisition stems from shoppers sharing the items they are interested in buying, or have bought. What’s more, the e-retailer reports a 15% conversion rate from what it calls socially discovered items, which are products that a shopper sees on a social network after one of her friends shared it.

Those robust results are what makes the flash-sale retailer stand out among online retailers, according to a new report from social commerce technology company 8thBridge Inc. The report examined the 475 retailers in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 and Second 500 guides, as well as a handful of other small retailers, that 8thBridge found to be the most active on social networks.

The report, “Social Commerce IQ: Retail,” used a metric dubbed Social Commerce IQ to gauge retailers’ effectiveness. 8thBridge says it calculated the rankings based on these four metrics:

• Brand awareness: how many fans a brand has on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, and whether the retailer shares a consumer’s on-site actions on a social network. For instance, Fab.com shares what items shoppers buy if those shoppers are signed in to Facebook.

• Traffic: the percentage of traffic Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest drive to a retailer’s site.

• Social lift: whether a site has social tools, such as the Pinterest Pin It button on product pages.

• Social customer relationship management: whether the retailer is able to gather consumers’ social media data by enabling them, for instance, to sign in to the site via their Facebook log in. That enables a retailer to tailor its site to a particular consumer.

The top retailers in the report tend to have deeply entrenched social elements on their sites. Those retailers also enable shoppers to sign in to their sites using their social network logins and they successfully drive shoppers to click from social networks to their sites.

Those elements are clear on Fab.com. The site also offers Facebook applications that, when used, share a consumer’s purchases on shoppers’ Facebook timelines. Additionally, Fab.com features an on-site social feed that allows shoppers to share their purchases and favorite products on the site and with friends.

The retailer also amplifies the information shoppers share about its site on Facebook using Facebook advertising tools, such as the Sponsored Stories ad format. The ads are messages originally posted from a consumer’s friends about their interactions with a retailer’s page, Facebook application or event. The retailer pays to promote the message to the consumer’s friends. It targets the ads at consumers likely to be interested in its brand because they Like similar flash-sale retailers, particular designers or fit certain demographics.

Here are the top 10 retailers overall in the index, followed by the scores on a 0-200 scale, and their rankings among the Internet Retailer Top 1000 retailers, where applicable:

• Fab.com, 149.6, No. 449

• Debshops.com, 135.2

• Coastal.com, 120.0, No. 156

• Modcloth.com, 118.6, No. 366

• Petflow.com, 114.8, No. 636

• ShoeDazzle.com, 113.2, No. 217

• JackThreads.com, 110.4, No. 440

• CafePress.com, 106.8, No. 112

• Birchbox.com, 103.4, No. 709

• Totsy.com, 102.2, No. 531

The report suggests that many retailers’ have shifted their social commerce strategies in the past year, increasingly focusing on creating richer social shopping experiences that better combine their e-commerce sites and social media. Their aim is to drive shoppers to more deeply engage with the retailer both on the retailer’s site and on their social network presences, the report says.

The rapid ascent of Pinterest, which had 27.2 million unique visitors in July according to The Nielsen Co.’sState of the Media: The Social Media Report 2012” epitomizes that trend because consumers can “pin” or share items from a retailer site on to Pinterest. Those images are often accompanied by a brief description or caption that appears below an image of the pinned item. 78% of the retailers in the Top 500 Guide are active on Pinterest, in part, the report says, because it emphasizes curation and attracts consumers based on the things that interest them rather than simply people they know. 

Other data points mentioned in the report include:

• For retailers in the report, Facebook’s upstream traffic—that is, consumers clicking from the social network to the retailer’s site—represents 2.46% of all traffic

• Pinterest upstream traffic is 0.11% 

• Twitter upstream traffic is 0.06% 

• 51% of retailers have a Pinterest Pin It button on their sites

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