NEW YORK — In a first, but likely not last for Facebook, a retailer is setting up shop inside the popular social-networking site.
Flower and gift retailer 1-800-Flowers.com plans to announce Wednesday it has opened a retail store to let people shop for its products directly through Facebook.
The Carle Place, N.Y.-based company was already a pioneer in using a 1-800 number as its name. The company went online in 1991 and three years later it became the first merchant on AOL.
Now that it gets the majority of its orders online, CEO and founder Jim McCann calls mobile applications and the Facebook store a natural step. The company launched an application for the BlackBerry last fall, and one for the iPhone followed shortly.
Of course, there are still hurdles. It's hard to find the company's fan page on Facebook, for example, unless you remember to include the hyphens and the ".com." This is something 1-800-Flowers.com says it is aware of. But to fix it, Facebook would have to tweak its search capabilities.
It's difficult to put a dollar figure on Facebook's benefits to businesses like 1-800-Flowers.com. But what is clear is that more and more companies are keeping up with their customers using social networks. There are roughly 300,000 active fan pages on Facebook, for businesses ranging from Target to McDonald's.