Fahrney’s Pens Elevates Online Experience

Aug 09, 2011 7:53 PM  By

Fahrney’s Pens, an 82-year-old cataloger, was late to the game when it entered cyberspace in 2005. But the upscale seller of pens, watches and collectibles hopes to make up for that with early adoption of mobile, tablet and social commerce.

Fahrney’s Pens in late June upgraded its ecommerce platform to the latest version of Ability Commerce’s SmartSite so its site could render across multiple devices. The merchant also recently upgraded to Zmags Professional so its digital catalog can be viewed on iPads and incorporated on its Facebook page.

“It’s always a challenge to acquire new customers, and doing it with emerging technologies offers a new twist,” says Fahrney’s Pens president Chris Sullivan. “You have to adapt to acquire today’s buyers.”

Sullivan says about 5% of Fahrney’s Pens web visitors now come in via iPads, 4%, by iPhones and 2% by Androids. And with the ecommerce site being accessed by users who weren’t tethered to a Mac or a PC, Sullivan says it was time to improve Fahrney’s mobile experience.

Now if an end-user goes to Fahrneyspens.com via an Android-based phone, for example, he will see a page that is automatically optimized for that device.

The same goes with the iPad, though the user can also browse a virtual version of the most current Fahrney’s Pens catalog. When the reader wants to see an item in the catalog, he can click on it to be directed to its page on the ecommerce site.

“The technology for the iPad allows the user to flip through the catalog,” Sullivan says. “People still like that feeling of flipping through catalogs, they’ve just found a different way to do it.”

The Zmags-powered virtual catalog is also on the merchant’s Facebook page, which Fahrney’s Pens also uses to communicate with its fans, promote products and launch contests.

Fahrney’s Pens also jumped on the QR code bandwagon, thanks to the USPS’s 3% discount to catalogers who used them in their mailings this summer. While it’s too early to measure those results, Sullivan says Fahrney’s is testing the QR code to help liquidate overstock. The code appears on the catalog’s back cover and connects the mobile user to the merchant’s annual summer warehouse clearance sale subsite.