This post was originally published in October, 2007 soon after Facebook opened up its developer platform for anyone to develop an application. Has Facebook proven to be a good ecommerce vehicle? Judging by the number of casualties of these Facebook apps below, Facebook applications are not worth the investment. Better investment is made in mobile application development.
Note: Links removed for applications as many are no longer in existence
12 daily active users
(4% of about 300 users)
Just pulls your wishlist from Shop.com. (Hint, hint for all your friends.) Shop.com potentially can drive sales traffic from products appearing on the 300 profiles of those who've added the application, especially around Christmas and birthdays (users are reminded of upcoming birthdays on their home page).
3 daily active users
(1% of about 300 users)
From Yahoo Shopping, this app goes beyond Shop COMpanion's offering. Not only can you do the wishlist-thing, you can send virtual gifts to your friends. It also shows you a list of your friends' actual profile interests/favorites. Example: 3 of my friends list "Star Wars" as a favorite movie. Clicking that link takes me to a list of Star Wars related merch. I didn't know there was a Darth Tater Potato Head! But it's very buggy and doesn't work for me more than half the time. You can also search for products right within Facebook, but you don't get the cool usability features of the real comparison engine like narrow by price, product comparison matrix and other winnowing tools.
Social Shopping / Bookmarking
1,405 daily active users
(6% of about 23,500 users)
Polyvore.com is quite a unique site with a "sticky" factor - girls can get lost in this thing. Basically you can create "sets" of clothing and accessories to create fantasy outfits using real items clipped from any online store, or browse sets by others. Personally I love it because I'm a bit brainless when it comes to fashion and I like to see what things would go well with stuff I already own, and I love the direct link to buy the actual stuff you see. With the Facebook apps, you can show off the sets you've created or ones you just like. This application might help spread the word about Polyvore's existence among its target market as people see the sets displayed on their friends' profiles.
68 daily active users
(7% of about 970 users)
You can share your Kaboodle wishlists with your friends. I also find this fun to browse for gift ideas for Christmas right in the application's "Hot Picks"-- a lot of things I would have never thought of.
7,954 daily active users
(5% of about 159,000)
A lot like Kaboodle, but how come StyleFeeder's app is so much more popular? It could be better promotion tactics, or could be their message, capturing that personal-expression factor combined with a "we help you" element:
"Show off the stuff you're currently shopping for – from clothes to gadgets to furniture to music. Add items you own, like, need or want to create an expression of your personal style…not to mention a wishlist that ensures your Facebook friends know exactly what rocks your boat. Stylefeeder also allows you to keep track of your current faves while shopping online, and suggests things you might like, based on the items you've added and rated. Consider us your personal shopper…you'll never shop alone again!"
Granted, I sent invites to over 100 girlfriends and none of them added the application...
5 daily active users
(12% of about 42 users)
ThisNext is my favorite social shopping site, but its app hasn't made waves.
18 daily active users
(5% of about 360 users)
Very similar to the other social shopping applications.
378 daily active users
(5% of about 7500 users)
Shoppero is an affiliate support site, users write reviews and when their reviews drive sales, commissions are earned. The Shoppero application helps members expand their reach and hopefully turn their friends into referral revenue.
28 daily active users
(3% of about 930 users)
Rate, mark and share items you find using MyShopping's search box. You can also see a feed of what other people want, which is a bit useless if they're complete strangers. (Who cares if Mikas McMurphy wants a video iPod?) What's good is you can compare prices right from inside Facebook, and if you do have friends using it, you can see who else likes or dislikes something. Looks like MyShopping is planning on having a referral revenue system in the future like Shoppero.
3 daily active users
(6% of about 50)
This application for Recommendr.com's Facebook companion is supposed to allow you to ask shopping questions and get answers and product recommendations from the community. This is a great idea, but needs more users at this stage.
There's also a myriad of other basic wishlist applications that will pull your Amazon wishlist and put it on your profile. There's simply too many to list here.
Deals and Coupon Sharing
Social Shopping Mall
8 daily active users
(No Data on %)
I love this application. Mallicious has built a useful tool for filtering deals from some of the hottest online retailers by product category, top deals, expiring deals, free shipping, coupon codes and exclusive offers for Facebook users. For example, you can click the "Halloween" category and boom, 17 deals on shipping and discounts of 5-15%. You can share your deals with friends, post them on your profile or just clip them in your account for convenience. What I really love about it is that as an online retailer, you can get in on the action free by submitting your own deals. True, 8 users a day doesn't sound like much, but remember that your deals will also appear on the Mallicious website.
294 daily active users
(9% of about 3270 users)
Now you can surf Deals Plus from Facebook. What I like is you can search from a big dropdown list of stores, for example Moosejaw Mountaineering, and see a big list of all the sales and discounts for that store. If you like the deal, simply click on its link to purchase the product or download a coupon, and you can share with friends.
8 daily active users
(3% of total)
Hot Deals lets you submit deals from within Facebook, but to be honest, at the time of writing this post there were only 16 deals listed total.
5 daily active users
(8% of about 63 users)
Dealza's another deals site, if you take one second to submit your deal to Dealza.com you can be seen by an extra 5 eyeballs a day (no wait, that would technically be 10 eyeballs.) Similar applications are "Online Bargains" by CheapCheapCheap (8 daily active users out of 400) and "Shop Bargains" by Shopping-bargains.com (5 daily active users out of 100).
Steep and Cheap
4 daily active users
(11% of about 37 users)
"One killer deal, one item at a time until it's gone." SteepAndCheap, the Woot for outdoor gear is a cool concept, but hasn't picked up steam. Even though statistics say 11% of users, this could be higher because the application updates itself on your profile, so you don't have to go into the application to see new items. Would be great branding for SteepAndCheap if more users would proudly display the item of the day on their profile.
7 daily active users
(2% of total)
This application was built by SocialFlowers.com and allows Facebook users to send any member (even non-friends) real flowers through its network of over 30,000 local florists in North America. Florist One, Inc is the family-owned business behind this service. I think this has great potential if only more people knew about it, as there's a few reasons Facebook users might appreciate this. Facebook serves as a reminder of friends' birthdays (adding anniversaries and other special occasions would help the flowers cause even more), and you can also keep updated on who's getting engaged, married, giving birth or who has recently lost a loved one through status updates in the news feed. Sending real flowers is also a tangible way of flirting online. And because you don't have to know the sendee's physical address, this makes for a convenient checkout process as you only need to pay for the flowers, and the recipient will enter their own address when they are notified of the gift by email.
UK users can send real flowers with the Teleflorist Flowers and Gifts application through the Teleflorist network. (59 daily active users of about 1475.)
Sexy Halloween Costume of the Day
185 daily active users
(20% of about 925 users)
BuyCostumes.com has the most users of the Halloween costume applications, most likely because its focus is on the sexy costumes. Guys are going to add this just 'cuz. Plus there's something new every day, so it encourages people to check every day. The other applications may have more selection and family friendly ideas for parents, so they may convert better. These apps are Halloween Costumes Galore by Anytime Costumes and Halloween Costume Ideas (created by a very clever affiliate marketer) which links up to BuyCostumes.com, Spirit Halloween and Anytime Costumes. Both have about 50 daily active users.
Go ahead and dress up your kid like a dog and your dog like Kid Rock this year.
592 daily active users
(3% of about 19,750 users)
Posters is fun and popular because users can add posters to their profiles and show them off as well as buy the poster (another great affiliate application) to really put up on your wall. Great for the high school / college crowd, but what if you've outgrown the poster-thing? You can also order them as kitchy magnets. Some of these posters are really funny, and you'll actually want to put them up on your profile. Exhibit A:
3 daily active users
(1% of about 300)
Blue Nile has a wishlist application also, which we covered back when Blue Nile was first out of the gate with an ecommerce application. Perhaps it makes a bit more sense to give hints to your spouse / boyfriend / girlfriend / parents on the bling you like than shoes?
2 daily active users
(5% of total)
I'm impressed by the effort of this Canadian supplement shop that practically recreated its store in Facebook. While it doesn't seem to have much traction at this time with 2 active users, you gotta hand it to them for putting in the time. They offer an extra 5% off to the loyal customers who add the app as well as their friends who shop the store through their profiles.
User Developed Fan Apps
Threadless is a site that oozes community, so it's no surprise that a couple applications were stitched up by fans. Basically these applications allow you to show off your submissions to the site or the tees you've collected. Threadless and Threadless plus have 6 and 37 daily active users respectively.
MyEtsy and EtsyShop
Etsy's users are passionate, and they've crafted two applications to show their love. Like Threadless, users can promote their own Etsy submissions or just their favorites. These apps attract about 26 daily active users.
Ecommerce Service Providers
2,965 daily active users
(7% of about 42,350 users)
CoutureCandy, Levi's, H&M and Land's End provide the duds, and MyVirtualModel provides the 3-D mini-me. About 3,000 people thought BrandMe was cool enough to play with today. You can dress up your virtual model which is supposed to give you an idea of how the clothes will really look on you (riiiight), but you can click through and actually buy the items which is a bonus for the participating brands.
What Can We Learn From All This?
Facebook applications are still a relatively new phenomenon, and it seems everyone and their Rottweiler is jumping on the bandwagon. For the most part, getting Facebookers to engage with an ecommerce application is a challenge. Already people are complaining of all the annoying invites to useless applications from their friends. And Facebook really is a social network that people love because it connects them with people, not with purchases.
However, if you are thinking of breaking in with your own killer ecommerce Facebook app, keep the following in mind:
1. All the rules of "virality" apply. Your application MUST be unique, entertaining or extremely useful and relevant to a large number of users.
2. Remember ego-capital. Give people something that will allow them to express themselves to their network - their personal style, funny quotes and sayings, their favorite team memorabilia, their ...
3. Create something that motivates users to actually use the application often.
Perhaps the most difficult thing is actually launching your application successfully so that it gets popular fast. Otherwise you're just another application in the haystack. Building anticipation and getting influential Facebook users to test and evangelize your application is easier said than done, I'm still waiting for a shining ecommerce example of this. But when there is one, be certain we'll cover it in depth here on Get Elastic.