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Facebook App Connects Buyers To Manufacturers' Resellers

Channel Intelligence's Where to Buy Facebook helps brands use the social network to direct consumers to the retailers that sell their wares.

Top 15 Facebook Apps For Business
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Slideshow: Top 15 Facebook Apps For Business
Channel Intelligence, a developer of e-commerce software and services for manufacturers and retailers, today unveiled CI Where to Buy Facebook, an application to help manufacturers use the social media site to connect potential buyers to retailers that sell their products.

The company's latest product joins its CI Boost family, which includes a product-search tool used within Google and Bing; display advertising; shopping engines used on sites such as PriceGrabber.com and Shopzilla.com; marketplaces for discontinued, refurbished, and end-of-inventory items used on sites like eBay and Amazon; e-commerce sites; and Where to Buy, which directs consumers to retail outlets from a manufacturer's site.

"A lot of manufacturers are still figuring out how to be in the right place at the right time. The popularity of Facebook is undeniable," Alan Fulmer, CI's executive VP and co-founder, said in an interview. "They know they want to be there and interact with their consumers. People are interacting with brands. If you're looking for opportunities with discounts, deals, or coupons, and there's a buying moment, [manufacturers] want to help them close that process and help them buy."

More than 100 of CI's 140-plus manufacturing clients have a Facebook page, according to the marketing software and service firm's internal research. About 10 of those manufacturers have created a temporary Facebook solution to help guide their customers to retailers, perhaps by adding a list of retail locations that sell their wares, said Fulmer.

"They're definitely looking for a solution and we know that, now that we've rolled this out, there's going to be huge demand almost immediately to get a solution up to take advantage of the fact they've got traffic. There's going to be a push," he said.

TrippLite, a manufacturer of uninterruptible power supplies, has already signed on for CI's new Facebook service, said Fulmer.

Manufacturers and retailers continue to investigate ways in which they can leverage social media, he said.

"Just the fact that Facebook is the second most popular website in the world increases its importance as an area that manufacturers and retailers have to look at to ensure they're taking advantage of the opportunities that are presented there," said Fulmer. "If it's not the highest priority, it's becoming one of the highest priorities for both. To sell products you have to be where the people are. Facebook has made themselves a priority by being where people are. You have to come up with some kind of solution. You want to do it well and you want speed. You want to do it efficiently and effectively."

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