Facebook commerce is dying? Not so fast cowboy

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If the headlines from a couple of months ago were anything to go by, Facebook commerce was as good as dead.

Major US players were shuttering their storefronts and in the words of one commentator, “the entire ecosystem was painted a very ugly colour”. Thing is, we probably shouldn’t be so quick to hammer the last nail into Fcommerce’s coffin.

A number of the stores that failed said their people simply preferred shopping on their websites to their Facebook storefronts.

According to the co-founder of customer experience specialist Consology, Kevin Meltzer that might be because some product offerings are just better suited to traditional ecommerce than Fcommerce:

There are a number of potential reasons that these Facebook commerce offerings failed to take off. Perhaps social media isn’t the right place to sell jeans and T-shirts to consumers because it is a place where they hang out with their friends. Many Facebook storefronts lack advanced features compared to the full electronic commerce offering that these retailers offer through their websites. It could also be that consumers are just not used to Fcommerce yet and that they will be more eager to use Facebook as a channel when their level of comfort with the privacy and security of the platform grows.

Even among the shuttered storefronts, there are signs that people could be willing to adopt Fcommerce. People did for instance like social aspects such as sharing their wish lists and discussing planned purchases with others on Facebook.

Meltzer reckons that products such as music, movies, e-books, prepaid cellular airtime, and event tickets could sell particularly well on Facebook.

Those products align pretty well with the sharing experience on the social network, something made easier by apps enable you to track what your friends are listening to or watching, share recommendations with each and then to check out the content on a service such as Netflix, Hulu or Spotify (provided you are in a country where these services are supported).

This makes it easy for media companies to sell since consumers are actively engaging with their content. Because the transactions are small and gratification is immediate, consumers also don’t feel the need to spend as much time on research as they might if they wanted to buy branded clothes or shoes.

Meltzer speculates that Facebook’s IPO could lead to on a buying spree, and that companies that help it do online and mobile commerce better could help it in its quest for extra revenue.

“Business models for social commerce are still in their infancy,” he says. “For some companies, Facebook commerce will be a game changer. Others may get more benefit from directing transactions to their Web sites and keeping Facebook as a channel for engagement and marketing. What is important is to have a clear view of how social commerce fits in with your broader channel strategy”.

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