How Fab.com Can Up Its Social Game, and Why

 Fab.com

Image from: Fab.com

Fab.com is beautiful, and rightly so; every handpicked item featured on the retail platform emanates the articulate, in-tune taste of the sites creators, Jason Goldberg and Bradford Shane Shellhammer. Recently Fab.com has been getting a slew of attention, traction, and momentum, with a 9 million-member-strong community and projected sales expected to reach $150 million in 2012.

Oh, and this is all after launching only two years ago with no revenue.

I wanted to post about Fab.com because it’s an interesting case, both as an outlier and a standard study. Fab.com is getting a ton right, but evolution is inherent in design and should be echoed in their social strategy. Here’s why:

Fab.com - Unique Visitors vs Visits per Person

In only one year Fab.com has increased its unique visitation by 928%. According to the site, those 9 million users it boasts are also loyal, with 67% of daily purchases coming from repeat buyers. Our data tells a bit of different story, showing that the actual visits per person are decreasing (-31.56%) since last year, but the slump can also be attributed a more efficient design as the site continues to develop.

So how is Fab.com getting such fabulous traction? Looking at their incoming traffic, the first clue is their number one referrer–the social networks of social networks– which in September contributed to 30.73% of Fab.com’s traffic.  Integrating with social seems to be doing Fab.com all sorts of favors, but I’m left wondering if they can improve.

Incoming Traffic to Fab.com

For instance, where on earth is Pinterest? You’d think the social-curation-behemoth, which is predicated on design and stunning imagery, would lend its visual stimulation to a site like Fab.com.  A quick search reveals that Fab.com does in fact have a Pinterest profile, but the following is a sliver of their Fab.com’s community.

Here’s my take: Pinterest, while exciting and recently pervasive, is simplistic. Visual complexity within the platform can be a hindrance. If there is too much to see, consumers will see nothing. Brands like Uniqlo understand the billboard capabilities of Pinterest and have managed to re-appropriate the otherwise random sequencing of pins to create stunning mosaics of products.


While Fab.com might not have the ability to synchronize its product visualizations into serial mosaics, it could take some cues from Uniqlo and other superlative profiles, such as top-pinner Jane Wang (with her boards like ‘Happy’ and ‘Simplicity’). Orient boards around design motifs and aesthetic notions. Lighten up and let the images do the work for you. A hyper-sales focused strategy won’t snag people’s inspirations, but a light-hearted and empathetic one will.

Fab.com will succeed because of the austerity of its cornerstones: great taste, optimal price points, and a glowing mesh of social media to hold it all together. The caliber of Fab.com’s growth speaks to the caliber of its product’s designs, and transitively to the selection of those designs.  Now the next step is letting those designs speak for themselves, allowing Fab.com to be what it needs to be: an icon for good taste.

About Ryan LaSala:
Ryan La Sala joins Compete as the Digital Marketing Co-op for Compete.com, sovereign of all things social media. Ryan is a current attendant of Northeastern University, dual-majoring in Cultural Anthropology and International Affairs (with minors in Biology and Psychology), with career interests in Industrial-Organizational Psychology and Consumer Anthropology. Aside from acquiring aspirations with big words, Ryan’s other interests include reading cheesy fiction, writing in any capacity, singing and cooking. Find Ryan on twitter @Ryality or connect with him on LinkedIn.