Dave McLean is the director of business analysis for Indigo, which has 240 physical locations across Canada and nearly $1 billion in revenue annually. McLean "lives in IT" but is responsible for driving innovation. "Social falls nicely into that camp," he said.
"As a retailer, we'd been hearing a lot of buzz around the notion of social commerce, and we are really 100% committed to exploring what that means," he said. "But we didn't want to get into this business of having to manage and maintain various connections to social networks, like Facebook Connect. So we really needed a partner that could provide that social plumbing and provide that social infrastructure for us so we could continue to focus on selling."
[ How are smart businesses adapting to the ways customers connect? Read How To Scale Social Business For The Real World. ]
When McLean started looking at social commerce solutions about two years ago, he found that there were "101 different ways that retailers are doing it." He decided that the key was to focus on putting a solid infrastructure in place and to be able to add onto that infrastructure as the retailer's social commerce initiatives evolved and as customer needs warranted.
After evaluating many different solutions, Indigo decided to go with Gigya, which McLean had worked with at a former employer.
Indigo started using Gigya's services about a year ago. Through a suite of plug-ins, Gigya eases the process of connecting companies with social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.
Indigo has a thriving social community, but one social network it was particularly interested in exploiting was Pinterest, which is geared toward sharing images of things people like and/or want. Leveraging Gigya's ShareIt PlugIn, which had already been integrated throughout Indigo's online product pages, it was easy to add the Pinterest PinIt button.
Indigo users immediately started pinning products, said McLean. Two months after integrating the PinIt button, the number of shares to social networks increased by 78%, with Pinterest accounting for 56% of shares, according to Indigo. In addition, social referral traffic grew by 218% during that same time period, with Pinterest accounting for 40% of social traffic. McLean said Gigya provided not only an easy means for Indigo to make these connections, but also the reporting capabilities that allow the retailer to make sense--and effective use--of resulting data.
McLean said the next step for Indigo is social sign-on for the retailer's website and community. However, added McLean, the company is taking it slow.
"The next step is going down the social sign-on path," said McLean. "Once we do that, we feel we can do some pretty interesting things in terms of social referral programs, rewards referral programs, creating Pinterest-like boards on our site--really taking our data to the next level from a retailer standpoint. But Canada's privacy commissioner is looking very carefully at how retailers connect with people on Facebook, and we want to take the cautious route."
Follow Deb Donston-Miller on Twitter at @debdonston.
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