ShopFans provides glue between social and retail

ShopFans provides the glue between retail and social (Adgregate Markets)Social commerce is white hot. Not surprisingly, a recent report from Foresee Results indicated that Facebook is by far the most effective way for retailers to woo would-be shoppers. The report indicates that, of the 69% of online shoppers who are social media users, 56% have chosen to “friend,” “follow,” or “subscribe to” at least one store brand on Facebook. And 49% of those who follow brands through Facebook want to hear about deals, and 45% want to browse products. To address the needs of brands and retailers in the online and social spaces, the Lab recently partnered with startup social commerce engine, Adgregate. The Lab was excited to learn about Adgregate’s ShopFans product because it provides the “glue” to tie conversations happening in the social graph to conversions in the store.

To hear more about their new Facebook application and how it will transform online purchasing across the social universe, I put these questions to Adgregate Founder and CEO, Henry Wong, a former venture capitalist at Novus Ventures.

What’s unique about ShopFans and why does it matter?

ShopFans was developed to bring truly social shopping to Facebook, where brands can easily turn conversations into conversions. Utilizing the world’s most secure social commerce technology available, ShopFans allows consumers to make secure purchase transactions directly in Facebook without compromising security and privacy. Moreover, ShopFans was built as a native Facebook application, which allows brands for the first time to tie directly into all of the social plumbing of Facebook, including promotion through “Wish lists”, “I want this!”, “Likes”, “Shout outs”, gift registries, private and exclusive sales, and more. This is the industry’s first ever fully secure, complete, and native Facebook ecommerce application, which not only allows brands to chat directly with its fans, but also allows fans to virally promote and share the brand’s message and products, all done through the social ‘hooks’ within Facebook.

Security and privacy can be challenging in this space. How is ShopFans addressing concerns in Facebook?

To be successful in the online retail space, protecting users and ensuring security of their data is a number one priority. A recent Consumer Reports study found that 71 percent of consumers look for a trustmark or privacy seal before doing online business with a merchant.
ShopFans utilizes advanced security and customer data management technologies and protocols to ensure that sensitive consumer order information and personal data are held to the same high standards of brands’ existing online retail sites.

How can marketers use ShopFans?

ShopFans brings a lot of power that social marketers will embrace. For the first time, advertisers will truly be able to fulfill the promises of social network marketing and apply them to establish brand / consumer conversations, increase engagement, gather product feedback, forecast product demand, and generate sales through promotional tools. For example, Fans can proclaim love of brands and products by sharing recent purchases, “Likes”, product wish-lists, solicit feedback from friends — all using our proprietary ShopFans solution. As a brand, I can now understand which of my products are being spread and shared virally with friends, whether positive or negative, so I can adjust my marketing strategy on the fly. While ShopFans on the surface brings in cool, social ecommerce capabilities, it’s the information and knowledge that is gathered from understanding what drives Fan behavior that will prove to be invaluable to marketers.

What made you decide there was a need for a company like Adgregate? Specifically, what in your background led you to your role as CEO and founder of Adgregate?

Being a venture capital investor in my former life, I saw Web 2.0 as just the beginning of the shift from the rigid destination web to the distributed web. While content has been the most talked about to date, the distribution of commerce is just beginning.  Tying online ad spend to actual ecommerce conversions was extremely inefficient due to the ‘walled gardens’ developed by the online marketing and ecommerce industries.   It became clear to me that in order to recognize true efficiency and deliver hard ROI for advertisers, a middle layer infrastructure was necessary to communicate seamlessly between these two disparate infrastructures.  That’s why I left VC and founded Adgregate on this notion and with the promise of greater efficiency and accountability in online advertising.

When ShopFans hits Facebook, what is the first thing you plan to buy?

In my downtime, I like to decompress by sitting in front of a game console and play shoot’em up games. So when we launch with our first game publisher client, I will be the first in line to pre-order the new title.