July 1, 2010, 12:45 PM

More diapers, please

Well.ca leverages Facebook to multiply the impact of its small marketing staff.

Lead Photo

Social media technology is helping to make up for a minuscule marketing staff at Well.ca, a Canada-based web-only retailer that sells health and beauty products. The nearly 3-year-old retailer has had a Facebook presence since May 2008, but has beefed up its Facebook activities within the last six months, says Sameera Banduk, who leads the retailer’s two-person marketing team.  About two  or three times a week the retailer will engage with customers on the social networking site, often by responding to questions or seeking suggestions for products or other aspects of Well.ca’s business.

“We're always asking customers for suggestions of products or sale items or blog posts,” she says. “We actually asked them which site design they liked best and really implemented the favorite.”

The company’s Facebook fan base has increased to nearly 1,300, with a 150% increase after a December promotion that included prize giveaways of a dozen products sold by the retailer, Banduk adds.

The privately held retailer uses the social media site to learn more about its customers and sharpen its product and pricing policies, without spending too much on marketing. For instance, though Well.ca has sold baby products since mid-2008, late last year the retailer noticed more Facebook comments from consumers desiring even more items such as breast pumps, diapers and baby food. That led the retailer to add more baby items, including the introduction of diapers to the product line in February, she says.

As well, Facebook, through the data that consumers share, helped the retailer gain a better profile of its customers—who are mostly women between the ages of 25 and 45. That data also made the increased commitment to baby products seem like a safer bet.

The retailer also monitors Facebook for comments that prices are too high. Any suggestion from a shopper that prices need to be lowered generally result in a review of that price within an hour, Banduk says. “First thing, we will look into cost of product and see if anything we can do. Then we will look at what the product is being sold for at other retailers,” she says.

The challenge in trying to change prices based on consumer complaints is that Well.ca, while serving the entire country of Canada, tends to get most of its business from residents of Ontario. “So we try to be fair to our customers in Ontario,” she says.

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