Social Skills: Carter’s and OshKosh B’gosh’s Baby Steps are Big

Mar 22, 2011 9:01 PM  By

When it comes to children’s apparel and accessories, you don’t get more old-school than Carter’s or OshKosh B’gosh. But the 19th-century brands, both owned by Carter’s, are hip to 21st-century social media.

Maybe that’s because the two brands are infants when it comes to ecommerce. The two brands share a tabbed single shopping cart site that was launched last March, so the ecommerce and marketing teams were able to start anew without the need to clear out an old, stale site.

And as a result, Carter’s and OshKosh B’gosh (I’m going to lump their social strategies into one critique) are off to a good start in this new world of customer communications and loyalty.

They are using one social media channel, Facebook, but that strategy seems to make a lot of sense. A survey conducted in December by online marketer Digital Surgeons showed that 40% of Facebook users follow a brand on Facebook vs. 25% that do on Twitter (though 67% of those tweeters follow a brand they will purchase from, vs. 51% of those that follow a brand on Facebook). Facebook also has more than 500 million users, vs. the 106 million on Twitter.

Though my wife and I are new parents (and are pretty loyal to the Carter’s brand), we haven’t received any print marketing offers from the company. But if they are doing any direct mail, I’m sure it does/will include a throw to its Facebook channel, just like its ecommerce and email marketing channels do. Both brands use a simple mention of the Facebook channel without promises of exclusive offers or deals.

Both brands use Facebook to spread the word about offers and deals available in-store and online—this is an audience that seems excited about sales on children’s clothing. (“If they could just stay little ’til their Carter’s wear out” is a fitting slogan to parents with growing children.) The brands post their coupons in their photo albums, which helps from a tracking perspective.

The merchants also allow their followers to post photos to their respective walls. This adds a bigger sense of community (“Hey, look at how cute my baby is!”) and helps sell product (“That outfit looks cute on that baby, it’ll look even cuter on mine!”).

And the brands are listening to their Facebook followers. Here’s an example: Amanda Funk posted a complaint about a pair of pajamas she’d bought her daughter to the OshKosh B’gosh wall.

A Facebook user named “OshKosh B’gosh Answers” promptly responded to Amanda’s post with the number to the merchant’s customer service department, and let the customer know they are willing to right a wrong. By looking at the thread, it appears OshKosh B’gosh kept the customer happy.

Both brands also created “social shopping” pages, which mirror the home page. They are not trying to sell through Facebook, but drive traffic back to the Carter’s and OshKosh B’gosh sites. They also added a FAQs section to both sites, which is a great way to keep followers in the loop.

But the one thing that troubles me is the “Join the Club” and “Sizes” tabs, which are rendering blank pages at the time I did the critique. This could simply be because Facebook earlier this month replaced its FBML-language tabs with iFrames and OshKosh B’gosh and Carter’s haven’t made the change yet.

But even if it’s the case, the merchants should remove those features to keep its followers to guessing what those tabs are about.