Sunday, July 1, 2012

Can eCommerce Thrive on Tumblr?

When looking to combine the power of social media with the revenue generation of ecommerce, Facebook would seem to be the place to go. However, attempts to sell actual goods through F-commerce haven’t fared all that well.
Pinterest seems the next logical choice, but monetization there is currently about affiliate links and nothing more.
Enter Coexist Digital and the Tumblr store.
I learned about this new venture from AdAge and I was fascinated, to say the least. Tumblr is one of those don’t care / can’t live without social sites, like LiveJournal. People who love it, really love it and they spend a good portion of their free time perusing the posts of others and adding to their endless stream of mostly graphical messaging.
Tumblr is a cross between LiveJournal and Pinterest, which is good for them, but is it good for ecommerce?
One company that is giving it a try is Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream. They have a couple of retail stores but mostly they wholesale to high-end grocery chains. High-end because, yikes, $60 for a collection of six frozen yogurts.
The sale items are mixed together with Jeni’s regular, non-sale posts. This feeds into the social media marketing notion that you need to post about more than just your own products. They do and they’re good at it. Their home page (which looks like a Pinterest page) is covered with close-up photos of yummy, artfully displayed foods and fresh, homey, lifestyle photos.
When you see an item that’s for sale, you click and get an expanded view like this:
Click ‘Add to Cart’ and then access the cart from the top toolbar. I’m not wild about the way things layout, especially the way it cuts the screen in two horizontally, but that may be more a design flaw than an ecommerce flaw.
Checkout is handled by online payment processor Stripe. Stripe and Coexist both get a percentage of each sale for their efforts, but it only amounts to about 6%, which isn’t bad. (*I didn’t look fully into setup or additional fees, so please investigate thoroughly before giving them a try.)
The Tumblr store by Coexist seems like an easy to install, nothing to lose program that might boost sales if you’re in the right business. Tumblr is visual and it attracts an artistic crowd. I’d use it for fashion, gourmet food, art prints, movie memorabilia, and quirky products of all kinds.
Will T-commerce catch on? Honestly, I can’t see it becoming wildly popular but that doesn’t matter as long as it works for the niche companies who use it. After all, a few loyal customers is better than a mailing list of folks who buy once and never return. And when you’re talking loyal, Tumblr users are that.

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