This week marked the start of what will undoubtedly become a new marketing distribution trend when retailer JCPenney opened a complete store within Facebook. For Facebook users who are accustomed to communicating with friends and publishing and sharing content, they can now browse and buy clothes, shoes, and any other product available through the JCPenney catalog without leaving Facebook. That’s 250,000 products at users’ fingertips.
You can expect this type of store front within Facebook to quickly grow in popularity from retailers’ perspectives. JCPenney isn’t the first retailer to provide a working store front within Facebook, but by offering a quarter million products, JCPenney is the largest by far. The company expects Facebook users to visit the store, which is accessible through a tab on the JCPenney Facebook Page, when they come across product mentions within their friends’ updates. A simple click brings them directly to the page where they can easily make their own purchase.
Fast Company reported the story this week saying:
“J.C. Penney expects that the new channel will give it more information about its customers, which could influence future marketing and product choices. ‘All of the information that Facebook has about people can be aggregated into analytical data,’ Jason Taylor [vice president of global product strategy for Usablenet, which built the Facebook operation for J.C. Penney] said. That includes the ages of their customers, what sorts of products they share with others, and how often they peruse the store’s offerings. ‘The interesting additional information they’re going to get could affect their decision-making,’ Taylor adds.”
On the flip side, the consumer perspective related to shopping via Facebook might present some challenges. Many social network users, particularly Facebook users, are concerned about the security of the private data they share. Facebook has been the subject of scrutiny frequently over the past couple of years for this very issue. There is undoubtedly a portion of Facebook users who will not be comfortable providing credit card or other financial information through the site in order to make a purchase from JCPenney or another retailer. That’s an issue that David Kiefaber of BrandFreak brought up in his own post about the new JCPenney store on Facebook, and it’s a valid point.
What do you think of branded stores on Facebook? Is offering shopping via social networking sites where consumers already spend time the next logical step for retail brands or is it like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole? Leave a comment and share your thoughts on this marketing trend.
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