Facebook offers a variety of methods to do business using its f-commerce tools. They range from the setting up entire virtual storefronts, creating access to existing brand websites, social interaction with customers and clients and brand marketing.
It doesn’t cost a brand anything to set up a storefront on their Facebook pages. Thousands of brands have done this. In this example, a customer starts the shopping trip within the brand’s Facebook shop. At some point in the purchase process, the customer is taken to the company’s e-commerce page or a licensed merchandise marketing and fulfillment service. Examples in this book that have this type of Facebook shopping capability are: Avon, Old Spice, BabyAndMeGifts.com, Ettitude, Livescribe, Best Buy, LadyGaGa, Jennifer Lopez, iTunes, Disney Toy Story, Victoria Secrets Gift Cards, Chile Monster’s Merchandising site, Coca-Cola, Amazon Gift Cards, and the WWE.
Sometimes when a customer leaves the Facebook page and is taken to the brand’s e-commerce site, a new window opens. Sometimes the look and feel changes as a customer goes from Twitter, to Facebook, to the website. You’ll want your web designers to maintain the look and feel of your Facebook Storefront in your e-commerce design for brand consistency.
Some brands, even though the customer ends up on a site external to Facebook, keep the social shoppers inside the Facebook environment longer than others. They do this by using the social interaction features offered by Facebook.
Let’s say a customer is browsing through your product selection. When they find something they like, you can empower them to share it with their friends with options like “Ask Friends” or “Share This.” How does that work? When a customer uses “Ask Friends,” that customer’s comment is sent to their Wall where their friends and family can see it and comment on it.
How to Display an F-commerce Store on Facebook
To display an f-commerce page in Facebook, there are two options. A brand can use iFrames or a Facebook app.
With iFrames, a brand can create, host, and display its own content in a Facebook page in the middle column. The advantage to iFrames? The creation and maintenance of the content and site can be done in-house by the business itself. And it tends to offer the most seamless customer experience for consumers. As many of us have experience as customers ourselves, the ease of use and simplicity in the shopping experience is critical to engaging and retaining customers to follow through and not abandon their shopping cart.
The adoption of smartphones, 3G/4G networks as well as the increase unlimited data plans has accelerated mobile media use. Brands are realizing that another venue to reach customers is through mobile browsers, apps and SMS. As technology advances, advertising will most likely play a major role in the development of the mobile ecosystem that Facebook users count on. In fact, according to comScore’s U.S. study on mobile advertising, they found that the number of advertisers using mobile display ad campaigns has more than doubled in the past two years.
The next trend will be brands that allow full f-commerce via smart phones. One often overlooked aspect is how often a product is forwarded to a friend or posted to Facebook, These actions are quite common within mobile applications, with 4-9 percent of users doing it regularly. Brands need to start thinking about how to reach their mobile audiences while they are shopping. Through Facebook Mobile texts consumers are able to receive notifications, and send and receive SMS. One of the biggest advantage of using an app is the increased amount of space a brand has to show their content and merchandise. For instance, an app gives you 760 pixels but iFrames only allows 520 pixels.
Geo Location, Deals and Facebook
Facebook has hoped to compete in this aspect of mobile social commerce with their feature
Facebook Places and Deals. Places would alert customers what brick-and-motor stores sold
Products in real time. Deals would offer discounts and limited time offers similar to Groupon
LivingSocial. However, after months of testing, Facebook determined that the market was a bit crowded even for them, and have phased them out – for the present.
Facebook Apps are evolving into one of the most possible segmente of f-commerce. However they are complicated and do require a professional development team to implement. Here a few examples of professionals in the field
8thBridge. 8thBridge allows a brand to provide social shopping experiences that are portable, personalized, and participatory. The experience across a merchant’s social shopping channel is consistent with the merchant’s existing website because 8thBridge leverages the merchant’s existing shopping cart, payment processing, and order fulfillment systems. This means there is little IT support required from a brand’s tech team. 8thBridge monetizes social media for some of the largest merchants in the world including 1-800-Flowers.com, Lands’ End, Delta Air Lines, Hallmark, HauteLook, and a division of Avon called mark.
SortPrice. With SortPrice’s free Merchant Store application for Facebook, merchants both big and small are running Facebook storefronts. The stores are powered by SortPrice technology combined with the product datafeeds. This allows the product information to be easily updated, so new products and price changes are synchronized. Each Facebook store application has an integrated Wishlist which allows Facebook users to save products and share them with friends. Over 1,500 small, medium, and large brands have stores. Among them are OfficeDepot, PetSmart, Loews, and Adobe.
Ecwid. Ecwid’s focus since 2001 has been commercial open source PHP shopping cart software. One good thing for small to midsized brands is that it’s also free. The software can be easily integrated to any existing site in minutes and the store can be mirrored on many sites at the same time and managed from one place. Because the store integrates with social networks, brands can run their own store on Facebook. No PHP knowledge is required, and there are no code changes or hosting expenses. Brands include Embe, K&K Photography Gallery, Hello Magpie, RedZero Printing, US21, Cafe Grumpy, and Mammamiu!
Usablenet. With Usablenet’s integrated Facebook application, brands can offer any product, service, feature, and functionality currently available on your website within Facebook. Customers can purchase a product, book a reservation, pay a bill, review products and share them with their friends, or provide feedback—without leaving Facebook. Customers include ASOS and JCPenny.
BigCommerce. BigCommerce provides e-commerce software to online retailers and merchants. Brand that want to do business on Facebook can use the BigCommerce free application, SocialShop 2. The retail platform shows up as the “Shop Now” tab on the Facebook page. It allows customers to share products with their Facebook friends and buy products within Facebook. Examples are Southern Jewlz, BabyAndMeGifts.com, and Etitude’s.
Payvment and PayPal’s Adaptive Payments API. Payvment may be a great choice for small to midsized businesses because it’s also free. Payvment originally was a web service that allowed a site owner to integrate a shopping cart into their e-commerce by adding one line of code to the site. The software allows retailers to create Facebook storefronts. Customers can use credit cards and PayPal. The new paid versions of the software include advanced analytics on Likes, comments, and Tweets on a product-by-product basis. Example Facebook shops are CHiASSO, Amoeba Music, Molly Sims, Hooked on Phonics, AdultSwim UK, Gibson, and Lakers Nation.
Storefront Social. This software enables retailers to connect their e-commerce store to Facebook. The brand can upload the storefront banner, choose from a wide variety of templates, feature/highlight products for special promotions, etc. After building the storefront, the connection wizard allows the brand to easily install the storefront to Facebook. Example brands that use this software are Livescribe and Zumba Fitness.
TheFind. Who has surpassed Yahoo as the second most popular shopping site? TheFind, according to comScore. TheFind’s mission is to help every shopper find exactly what they want to buy, and to help every merchant, large and small, to reach those shoppers. TheFind is a vertical search engine for shopping that puts every product, every store, every sale, coupon, and discount right at the customer’s fingertips. It provides an in-depth Facebook integration called “Shop Like Friends.” It allows customers to sign into the site with Facebook Connect. It then taps into the preferences of their Facebook Friends and pages that their friends have “liked” on Facebook. It then maps this to stores and brands. In the next chapter we’ll take a look at how f-commerce is different from e-commerce.
Enhancing Your Website with Facebook
Another option is to bring the Facebook experience to your company’s website. This allows a brand to tap their customers’ Facebook social network’s connections and interests within the purchasing process. The Facebook-provided buttons have short code snippets that ping Facebook’s social network for information about the customer and their social network while they are visiting the brand’s site. An example of a brand using this Facebook technique in this book is Levi’s.
Facebook Buttons & Plug-ins
A brand, to be successful with f-commerce, must use the Facebook social buttons and plug-ins on either their own website and/or their f-commerce stores. Facebook buttons and plug-ins are what make the f-commerce a social commerce experience vs. just another e-commerce transaction. The reason they are such a critical part of f-commerce is because of the difference between a website and a social network. Facebook is not a website. Facebook is a social network. Sometimes people come to Facebook and think it’s a giant website with over 750 million people. And because there are so many potential eyeballs, it’s a great place to put a store. It can be a great place to have a store, but not understanding the difference between a social network and a website will make all your efforts for your Facebook store a waste of time, energy, and money.
A website or an e-commerce site is a site where you display your information or products. The expectation of customers is that they will find what they need from you on those pages. A social network is a social interaction center on the Internet. Within a social network, people expect the ability for two-way interactions. They aren’t interested in your store if all you do is display your products. Customers are looking for interactions between the brand and the customers as well as the ability to interact—customer to customer, friend to friend, friend to family.
The Like Button is one of the first interactions in f-commerce. The standard buttons, while they are not new, are a critical part of getting people to come to your store and buy. Most all companies using f-commerce have you “Like” the brand’s store. In other words, if the customer doesn’t hit “Like,” they can’t get into to the store to see the merchandise. In addition, the Like Button enables users to share pages from your brand’s site back to their Facebook profile with one click. When it’s used with a product page it can entice and influencer a shopper who sees the names and pictures of people in their social network who have also “Liked” that product.
The Send Button allows your customers to easily send your brand’s content to their friends.
Some of the other interactions that you can enable to create interactions within your store are the plug-ins. If you haven’t been using plug-ins for Facebook, you’ll want to spend some time learning about these.
The Log-in Button shows profile pictures of your customer’s friends who have already signed up for your site in addition to a log-in button. The Registration plug-in allows your customers to sign into your website with their Facebook account.
The Comments plug-in encourages your customers to comment on the content on your site.
The Activity Feed plug-in shows your customers what their friends are doing on your site through likes and comments.
The Recommendations plug-in gives your customers personalized suggestions for pages they might like on your site. The Like Box enables your customers to like your Facebook Page and view its stream directly from your website.
The Facepile plug-in displays the Facebook profile pictures of your customers who have liked your page or have signed up for your site.
The Live Stream plug-in lets your customers share activity and comments in real-time as they interact during a live event.
These amazing tools, simply yet efficient, have put Facebook in the forefront of the social commerce environment.
Learn. Share. Grow!
@DrNatalie L. Petouhoff
For more info on my work:
Ebook:Social Media ROI
Social Media ROI YouTube Videos:
Video 1: Building the Business Case for Social Media
Video 2: How to Measure the ROI of Social Media
Book on Monetizing Facebook: Like My Stuff: How To Monetize Your Facebook Fans