Retailers Embrace the Social
Network Model"> Amway is the place where social networks meet e-commerce. In any digital era prior to Web 2.0 this postulation may have seemed absurd, but it is true thanks to a new online entertainment store called Fanista. The site is the latest example of how retailers are employing social networking practices to sell their products and create connections among customers.Users can digitally drop by the store to shop. However, like a social network, buyers can become members of the Fanista network, creating custom profiles with lists of favorite CDs and DVDs. These members can then invite friends to join. If those new members join and buy something, they have the option to list those friends as the reason for joining. The friends who invited them will get a 5 percent cut of the sale, good for cash or credit. Adler likened this to the commission salespeople get when shoppers tell a cashier who helped them on the shop floor. Read more here about Facebook delving into online ads. It is this monetary motivation that is not available on Facebook or MySpace, which together boast more than 150 million users. However, Adler doesnt expect users to flee Facebook or MySpace for Fanista. Rather, he sees it as a complement to those networks, which are more general interest. "Shopping is an incredibly social experience and unfortunately that has never translated well online," Adler told eWEEK. Adler, whose resume includes stops at Creative Artists Agency and Walt Disney, said he targeted entertainment because its the vertical where people are most influenced by their peers instead of marketing spiel. It is that social network aspect that Fanista, appropriately based in entertainment-centric Beverly Hills, Calif., is driving home. Any user can go to Amazon.com, read and post reviews, and buy music, DVDs and anything else they can get at Wal-Mart. But where Amazon is Wal-Mart, Fanista is the local independent music shop, populated by music and movie fans willing to share their tastes, or even best and worst concert or movie experiences. "It brings out the storyteller within everybody around the thing that is a shared experience for all of us," Adler said. Next page: Retailers Embrace the Social Network Model
Fanista, which opened in beta Nov. 20, currently sells CDs and DVDs, and it will expand to video games and books in the coming weeks and months, said founder Daniel H. Adler.