Clothing Retailer's Secret Weapon: The Facebook "Like" Button

Tea Collection clothing siteWhat to do with excess inventory? It’s the retailer’s perennial dilemma. Tea Collection, a San Francisco purveyor of children’s clothes, used Facebook to come up with a novel solution. This past summer, they used the “Like” button to have their customers vote on their favorite piece from a collection that was about to be discontinued, and promised that the winning item would be offered at a deep discount.

As with such experiments, Tea Collection had no idea how it would pan out. But, perhaps not surprisingly, it was a hit. The winning item, a $59 girl’s dress that was discounted to $10, sold out almost immediately after its win was announced.

“In our wildest imagination, we didn’t think we’d be able to sell out of these things,” marketing director Jeff Reichelderfer told Fast Company.

Tea Collection, whose clothes sell in boutiques and department stores across the country as well as on its website, took a financial hit on the winning dress. But, Reichelderfer says, the campaign more than made up for the losses with purchases that customers made on other items. The contest got them in the (virtual) doors. Once there, as often happens, the customers bought other items as well. It was one of the company’s biggest sales days ever, Reichelderfer said.

Since the initial event, the company has held two more competitions, including one this fall where customers voted not just on single items but on entire looks. In addition to helping the company move inventory, it allowed it to achieve its broader goals of getting customers more engaged with the site.

“At the end of the day, it was fun, people had a good time, people liked it and shared,” Reichelderfer said. “It was a way to get people onto the site and keep our current customers happy.”

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