An Online “Want” List

Retailers use new social networking widgets to boost brand awareness, sales

Sharper Image has successfully implemented the “Want” button, boosting sales and brand recognition.

Move over, “Like” button. There’s a new feature on the social media block that makes it easy for retailers to know what shoppers really want.

Merchants are testing the waters with a new “Want” button that can be added to online product pages, so shoppers can keep track of items on their wish list and inform their Facebook friends about what’s on their radar. Brands are embracing this concept to get endorsements and learn more about customer preferences, while increasing conversion rates and average order values.

The Want button from — where fans can discuss trends and popular items — is already gracing the online product pages of more than 200 retailers, including Finish Line, Moosejaw and Sharper Image. When a shopper clicks the button — often touted under an item’s product details — a small pop-up screen appears where users can add comments about the product. The news that a shopper is interested in a certain item goes straight to Twitter and their Facebook news feed, spreading details to their friends about which items they want.

“The ‘Want’ button is similar to an online wish list in that shoppers can keep track of what they want and inform their friends, but it does so much more for us than just that, from expanding the brand to driving sales,” explained Sam Grossman, director of marketing at San Francisco-based Sharper Image. (The consumer electronics and gifts brand, whose products are sold direct to the consumer and at department and specialty stores, was purchased by Iconix Brand Group in 2011).

Since Sharper Image implemented the “Want” button solution in late 2010, it has significantly boosted the company’s search engine optimization results.

“Adding links to our product detail pages from the Want site has enhanced our rankings for key products in organic search results, so we’re getting more brand recognition and click-throughs from natural search,” Grossman said.

Even more, Sharper Image has experienced a big jump in sales, as shoppers who use the feature convert at five times the rate of other shoppers. “Want” users’ average order value is also 21% higher than other shoppers.

“The button is similar to a positive review of a product — it increases shopper confidence in the product, consequently increasing sales,” Grossman said. “We’ve had great success with it so far.”

In addition to adding a “Want” button, retailers are also embracing other Facebook widgets such as “Like” and “Share” onto their shopping cart and product pages. The key to embracing all of these social media tools is to fully integrate them into the design and flow of the site and checkout system, according to Susan McKenna, CEO of Winnetka, Calif.-based McKenna’s Marketing.

“Making social widgets passive on the far right-hand side of the page away from viewing isn’t going to help much,” McKenna said. “Retailers need to place these buttons next to the product image or near its description text.”

Merchants can also prompt shoppers with a message on the checkout page to “share this with friends.” Incentivizing customers to do so is also a powerful tactic.

“Give shoppers, who refer friends to the site by using these features, coupons or ‘points’ that can go toward something they can benefit from, such as discounts,” McKenna said. “Incentives have a huge return on investment, and they don’t take too much effort to implement.”

Retailers can also extend their social media and online wish-list initiatives by integrating them with a mobile platform. For example, wish-list mobile software such as for the iPhone allows users to not only create a wish list via a mobile device and pass it along via social networking sites and text messages, it also allows users to scan a bar code on any item in a store and add it to an existing list that can later be shared with friends and family.

“The growth and blending of social media and mobile platforms will undoubtedly change the way we shop for gifts, especially as smartphone saturation continues to grow in the U.S. and worldwide,” McKenna said. “Retailers need to start thinking more about how they can leverage this type of technology to truly stand out against competitors.”


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