NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Procter & Gamble Co. is leaning heavily on social media and cross-marketing its many brands as it expands to the general public an e-store built heavily around social media, following a four-month test with around 5,000 consumers, the company announced today.
The e-store is meant to be a "living learning lab" for e-commerce capabilities, the company said in a statement. Online retailing has been a high priority for P&G Chairman-CEO Bob McDonald since he took the company's top job last year.
PGestore.com could become the biggest e-commerce venture to date for P&G, which since the late 1990s has often launched new products through direct online sales to consumers; once owned mass-customization online beauty retailer Reflect.com; and also has expanded the multibrand TheEssentials.com online retail site inherited from Gillette.
For the latest venture, P&G is adding touches such as product ratings , shopper feedback forums for users to share tips and links to its Facebook brand fan pages, through which consumers can buy products directly.
While P&G isn't going the free-shipping route that Alice.com took when it launched an online retail site for package-goods marketers last year, it is offering $5 flat-rate shipping for purchases regardless of number of products or volume bought.
P&G is operating the store with help from e-commerce platform and fulfillment provider PFSweb. Digital agency Resource Interactive, Columbus, Ohio, is also working with the company on the program.
While P&G today gets less than 1% of sales online, or $500 million, Mr. McDonald has said he sees no reason the company can't increase such sales tenfold. Earlier this year, P&G appointed Alex Tosolini, who had been VP of North American fabric care, as VP e-commerce to spearhead those efforts.
P&G said its e-store will evolve with new services based on shopper input, and that it will share what it learns with other retailers. The store currently incorporates an online program launched in late 2007 -- OlayforYou -- to help women select skin-care products based on a series of questions, along with a Pampers DiaperSizer utility and live chat with customer representatives.
P&G's e-store comes as other package-goods marketers are also ramping up e-commerce efforts. Alice.com is hosting e-stores on its site for about 30 marketers, most of them in package goods.