Social Commerce

Three Start-up Founders Share Social Commerce Success Stories; Retail Giant Walmart Weighs-In Alongside

Large or small, companies of all sizes use social media for marketing. As a case in point, three entrepreneurs who are co-founders of start-up companies, along with a representative of @Walmartlabs were given the opportunity to share their own social commerce success stories at Business Insider Social Commerce Summit held last week in New York.

The foursome were featured panelists in a session entitled “Product Discovery + Demand Generation: From Blah, Blah, Blah To Ka-Ching! : Cracking The Product-Discovery Code.” Part of the focus was on how each used social media to distinguish themselves,  build their brand and generate sales activity.

The panelists were:

For Beauchamp, success came as a result of a blogger outreach. “We had a list of bloggers we intended to reach out to, that’s really what kicked things off. When we sent out the first few boxes, it just went crazy. It was totally organic growth,” she said.

Beauchamp added that Facebook and YouTube have both been channels that benefited the company. “Facebook has been incredibly powerful, but YouTube was eye-opening…People were creating videos and showing what a Birchbox was. It’s an authentic conversation about product.”

Brian Lee had his sights set on not a group of people, but one person in particular, Kim Kardashian. His banking on her popularity and huge fan base put Shoedazzle on the map.

Eventually, however, the Kardashiam glitter wore off and it took bringing in other celebrities to keep things rolling. “Every month or two we have a new celebrity come in and design our shoe for us. We get a new celebrity to design a shoe and get all her fans to come join,” said Lee.

In regard to a social media platform that has been kind to Shoedazzle, Lee said,” For us it was absolutely Facebook, no question.”

Jackthreads co-founder Jason Ross paid homage to Thrillist, which publishers a daily email newsletter filled with offbeat recommendations. “Any time Thrillist wrote about our brand, their readers were signing up for our site. They created a trusted editorial voice for their audience. We joined forces with them in 2010,” he said.

Ross cited the company’s use of Facebook and Twitter as a way to engage with customers and expressed interest in Pinterest due to its huge growth and the attention currently being paid to the site.

That’s the story from three startups. Representing one of the largest companies on the planet, Walmart, was Chris Bolte, VP of Demand Generation at @Walmartlabs. Bolte said that Walmart is using social analytics for supply chain management purposes. “We see where products are spiking” and “whether there was negative or positive sentiment” around them he said. “Then we can tweak supply to those stores, relay that to managers and it closes the curve with supply and demand.”

As you can see from these examples, there is no one-size-fits-all social commerce solution. What works for one is not necessarily what worked for the other. In reality, it’s a case of what works is what works for you, whether that be a blog, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, up-and-comer Pinterest, or a combination of tools and approaches. As for @Walmartlabs, well, that’s something else altogether – social commerce taken to an entirely new level.


Chartered psychologist specialising in consumer behaviour, wellbeing and technology. Certified CX professional experienced in Design Thinking. A researcher, writer and speaker, Paul is head of Digital Insight at SYZYGY.

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