Why Your Online Retail Strategy Needs F-Commerce

By Tim Bosch

“If I had to guess, social commerce is the next area to really blow up”

-Mark Zuckerburg, Aug 2010

What the heck is social commerce?

Social commerce is the marriage of social media and retail in order to benefit both the buyer and seller. Underneath the umbrella of social commerce is the focus of this piece— Facebook Commerce or F-commerce. F-commerce is commerce taking place on Facebook; enabling consumers to make online purchases without ever leaving.

So anyway, has Facebook’s CEO been accurate?

F-Commerce is on the rise, but retailers are, by nature, risk averse. Consequently, only the social savvy marketers are adding a Facebook layer to their retail strategy. Meanwhile, especially in today’s warp-speed marketplace, waiting too long can be deadly. I truly believe that this channel can add value to any e-retailer.

So here are 5 reasons to dive into F-commerce:

1. Decrease Consumer Effort

650 million people worldwide are spending more and more time on Facebook. Their attention span for traditional e-commerce is quickly diminishing. If your customers are already allocating so much time on Facebook, then why not allow them the option to purchase your product without the hassle of ever leaving? Consumers are lazy; give us the easiest way to complete an action and we will take it.

2. The Social Nature of Shopping

F-commerce has the potential to do something that e-commerce could never deliver— a truly social experience while shopping online. Family, friends, and co-workers have always been key influencers regarding purchase decisions. They are all on Facebook! Picture this: next to the “Add to Cart” button you saw that 7 of your friends have already purchased this item. This type of marketing is now possible with F-commerce.

3. Impressive Stats

Here are some notable datapoints courtesy of SocialCommerce Today— a website dedicated to social commerce:

  • Forrester Research predicts that, by 2015, F-commerce will grow 6-fold to a $30 Billion dollar industry
  • The top 3 brands on Facebook (by fans) all utilize F-commerce- Coca-Cola (24m), Starbucks (20m) and Disney (19m)
  • 1000: Number of diapers P&G sold on its F-store in under an hour
  • 6 hours: Time it took for the Rachel Roy Facebook jewelry store to sell out

Facebook users spend 1.5x more money online that non-facebook internet users

  • 75% of Facebook users have ‘liked’ a business
  • 51%  boost in odds a customer will purchase, after clicking the ‘like’ button
  • 41%  increase in likelihood a customer will recommend, if they have ‘liked’ the brand

Here are some of the clever marketers who are driving revenue through F-commerce: 1-800-Flowers, Amazon, Apple, Best Buy, Coca-Cola, Delta, Diesel, Disney, Dove (Unilever), Gap, Heinz, JCPenney, Levi’s, Macy’s, Nike, Nine West, Old Spice, P&G, Pampers, Pantene, Rachel Roy, Sears, Starbucks, Volkswagen, Wal-Mart and Warner Brothers.

4. iFrames

Facebook’s recent implementation of iFrames has made F-commerce enthusiasts, like me, pretty pumped up. This is why:

- Enhanced design elements

- Advanced selling functions

- Better site search and navigation

- Various checkout payment options that on-line shoppers are used to

- More flexibility when creating and editing

iFrames is basically allowing Facebook stores to look and act like an e-commerce site. This will allow a seamless transition for the emerging social consumer.

5. Facebook Intelligence

Facebook is perpetually capturing vast amounts consumer data. The potential to harness this data to deliver targeted, personalized shopping experiences for brands, is huge. Every single parameter of a personal profile can be exploited for an individually tailored shopping experience— just ask Amazon if this works. With the immense amount of relevant consumer intelligence, the personalization of shopping on Facebook is limitless

Final Thoughts

A decade ago, when the Web was even smaller than Facebook, many companies neglected to deploy e-commerce; but those that did pretty OK: “If I had a nickel for every time an investor told me this wouldn’t work…” Jeff Benzos, founder of Amazon. Let’s not get fooled by old school marketers—they will sink your business.

Facebook’s business functionality will continue to evolve. Eventually, social elements will cross each function of business. Those businesses that “show up first” to explore these methods will dominate the world’s largest market place: Facebook. So, get on board with F-commerce and pull ahead of the pack!

What are your main concerns with this shopping method? Will this channel hurt, or help traditional e-commerce? Share your thoughts in the comments below!