Successful Social Commerce Companies? Not the Ones You Think

Paul Chaney
Paul Chaney Internet marketing consultant, freelance writer and author, United States

Posted on January 13th 2013

Successful Social Commerce Companies? Not the Ones You Think

Much has been said about companies that have been unsuccessful using social commerce. A new guide from Internet Retailer lists many that have experienced great success.

According to The 2013 Social Media 300: Ranking E-Retail’s Leaders in Social Media Marketing and Commerce, it’s SMB retailers that top the list, not giants like Wal-mart, Target and BestBuy. Those don’t even make it into the top 100.

Here’s what the leaders in social media marketing and commerce look like said IR: they are small to mid-sized web-only merchants, relatively new to online retailing, that have put social media at the forefront of their business strategies.


Big budgets don’t factor in either, as nine of the top ten retailers in the guide brought in less than $30 million each in online sales in 2011.

A key metric followed by Internet Retailer was the percentage of web site traffic retailers receive from social networks, which the guide said is a measurement of how effective these merchants are at using social media and social commerce.

The leaders on the list include at number one, followed and Coastal Contacts respectively. Of the three, Fab is probably the most regaled for its use of social commerce.

“, brings in 30 percent of its total site traffic and overall revenue from social networks – mostly as a result of a laser-like focus on building a maintaining a loyal Facebook fan base and regular posts that speak to their followers’ inner pet lover,” said the guide, while received 25 percent of its site traffic from social networks.

Additionally, the guide revealed Fab received up to one-third of its sales – $50 million – from social media. Coastal Contacts saw significantly fewer sales – 5 percent – coming from social channels, but that’s still a reasonable sum considered the retailer generated $177 million in sales online in 2011. On average, sales from social media came to 4.25 percent of total said Internet Retailer.

For these retailers it’s not a get rich quick strategy either. “We’re really trying to build customers for a lifetime, and social is a way for us to do that,” said founder and CEO Jason Goldberg.

I’ve always said social media is not the fast road to profit, but the high road. Its real value comes in building customer loyalty over the long-haul. Remember the lesson of the tortoise and the hare? Slow and steady wins the race. And, in Fab’s case, being a thoroughly social company doesn’t hurt either. In a related Internet Retailer article, Goldberg sized up his company as “an e-commerce site based on Facebook.”

The real lesson taught by the guide is that success in social media is the purview of smaller retailers. Perhaps it’s because they are the ones best suited to building personal, authentic relationships with customers that produce loyalty and LTV. Whatever the reason, Internet Retailer’s resource may hold valuable information from which larger retailers could benefit.


Today’s article is sponsored by Payvment: The #1 Social Commerce Platform

Paul Chaney

Paul Chaney

Internet marketing consultant, freelance writer and author, United States

Paul Chaney is an Internet marketing consultant focused on content marketing, social media and social commerce. He is also a freelance writer, popular speaker and author of four books on the topics of business blogging and social media marketing:

Realty Blogging: Build Your Brand and Outsmart Your Competition, published by McGraw-Hill in 2006.

The Digital Handshake: Seven Proven Strategies to Grow Your Business Using Social Media, published by Wiley in 2009.

The F-Commerce Handbook: 10 Secrets to Unlocking the Sales Potential of Facebook, published by McGraw-Hill in 2012.

The Social Commerce Handbook: 20 Secrets to Turning Social Media Into Social Sales, also published by McGraw-Hill in October 2012.

Paul provides Internet marketing and social media consulting and training services to small and medium businesses, advertising agencies and non-profit organizations. His expertise lies in effectively combining the conversational marketing aspects of social media with conversion mechanisms that are fully aligned with business objectives.

Paul sits on the board of advisors for the Women’s Wisdom Network, the Social Media Marketing Institute andSmartBrief on Social Media. He is a feature writer forPractical Ecommerce on the topic of social commerce and is Associate Editor of Social Commerce Today, a leading blog covering the topic of social commerce.

Paul is a sought after speaker on the topic of social media marketing. Since 2005, he has led numerous business blogging and social media workshops, including the first ever such seminar to be held in Asia. He was also invited by the U. S. Department of Commerce to lead a series of social media workshops to business people in the Ukraine.

Paul is a Technical Editor for Pearson and Wiley publishing and has worked on many of the For Dummies series books related to blogging, SEO and Internet marketing that have been written to date.

He was technical editor and contributing writer on Buzz Marketing with Blogs For Dummies, the very first book to address blogging from a purely business perspective.

See Full Profile >


Robin Carey
Posted on January 13th 2013 at 12:42PM

With the National Retail Federation conference starting this week in New York, Paul, this is a timely post.  Thanks for sharing.

Paul Chaney
Posted on January 15th 2013 at 4:55PM

Thanks for including it Robin. It's getting lots of RTs as a result. 

Posted on November 8th 2013 at 3:34AM

The best Ecommerce websites are indeed not the big names you find in the market, but usually the small to medium enterprises, or even start-ups. I think it is a function of how far you would like to reach out given a limited budget, and also the nature of your business. I know a number of ecommerce stores or mobile apps that would be utilised heavily by SMBs. Fashion ecommerce also are becoming more popular, and it is the small business that are gaining prominence. I guess, the markets they target are the tech savvier.