Facebook stores have had some success in the past but it has not really taken off yet. First movers such as ASOS in the UK or Petco in the US are already set up and sell their products directly via Facebook but the broad masses seem reluctant to join the movement.
Many brands are still unsure of “this Facebook thing” and are trying to find their feet in the social space let alone sell on Facebook. Many brands are still questioning the power of Facebook as an advertising tool and as a consequence the next question for many is whether Facebook can become a successful direct sales channel in its own right.
There are very compelling reasons however to open up a Facebook store whether one believes in the power of Facebook or not.
- People love Facebook: the social network giant has over 750m users and it is not a secret that people are simply addicted to it. 50% of the active Facebook users log on to Facebook in any given day and 48% of the 18- 34 year old check Facebook first thing in the morning.
- Facebook is free: The platform is completely free so there are no hosting or domain fees. Additionally, there is no commission to be paid to Facebook. Obviously you still need to invest in extra resource to manage the Facebook shop and develop it first but it is a fairly cheap solution to growing online sales.
- First mover advantage: It is still out there but not for long. If your brand wants to be seen as innovative, young and trendy you may want to set up shop sooner rather than later.
- Measure ROI: F-commerce allows your brand to link the advertising and marketing expenses to sales. This is crucial for many brands struggling to make the connection between a social business strategy and sales. With a Facebook store it will be easy to monetize Facebook and measure ROI.
- Competition: Your competitors may soon start trading on Facebook and this is when you can no longer ignore Facebook. It would be like a new shopping center opens up and you do not set up shop there although it is free and your competitors are trading there.
The success of your F-commerce strategy however will depend on how it can enhance the purchasing experience. You need to find a way to cut through a person’s news feeds on Facebook to literally yank him or her out of their social environment and into their shopping frame of mind. Social Innovations, a group of developers from the UK has come up with a cool app to make the social shopping experience a lasting one. Here is a demo:
Basically this app is able to “learn” about a potential customer from its Facebook profile (likes, events, interests, hobbies etc) and as a result can provide tailored product offers. In this demo the customer likes Katie Price and therefore the app suggests clothing to buy as worn by Katie Price. Certainly a different customer experience compared to a brick and mortar store with a grumpy sales assistant. Customers are also able to receive exclusive Facebook discounts and can share their shopping experience via their Facebook status with friends.
If this is a bit too much for you then you may like some simpler apps such as Payvment, Novelo or Tab Juice as reviewed here. Whatever you do though, do it with the right strategy in place and never rely on a shiny app to sell your product.