F-commerce proving a less than inspiring venture for brands

In 2011 Facebook introduced F-commerce. A year down the line and things don’t seem to going quite as first planned.

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In 2011, Facebook took a huge leap of faith by allowing businesses to set up shop and sell their products directly from their Facebook pages. F-commerce, as it’s known had a positive uptake from lots of household brands keen to cash in on their large Facebook followings.

A year down the line and things aren’t going so well, with reports suggesting that many of the early adopters are calling time on their F-commerce experience. Gap, J.C. Penney and Gamestop are just a few that have shut up shop in recent months.

According to a report by Bloomberg, video game retailer Gamestop opened its Facebook store last April but lasted just six months due to the inability to convert its 3.5 million-plus Facebook fan base in to paying customers. A familiar story that many other brands can relate to I’m sure.

It’s no coincidence that so many brands are pulling the plug on F-commerce and it’s a decision which completely undermines the expectations initially pinned to the service when it first launched. Little over a year ago there were even suggestions that Facebook would be ‘the next big thing’ in e-commerce, with the potential to challenge the likes of Amazon and PayPal. Not so much, it seems.

So what is it that’s stopping Facebook’s 850 million members from splashing the cash? Sucharita Mulpuru, an analyst at Forrester Research explained;

“There was a lot of anticipation that Facebook would turn into a new destination, a store, a place where people would shop,”

“But it was like trying to sell stuff to people while they’re hanging out with their friends at the bar.”

And here lies the problem – Facebook is social network, not a shop.

In addition, the Facebook checkout process it notoriously clunky due the process taking place via slow-loading Facebook apps. Team this with uninspiring, replicated product catalogues and you’re giving users zero incentive to shop via Facebook.

While it’s too early to write off F-commerce for good, recent evidence would suggest that brands are best using social networks for what they offer best (engaging with fans) and letting their websites do the selling.

I’d love to hear your thoughts – does this prove that social networks and e-commerce should be kept separate, or just that retailers need to do more in order to harness their potential selling power?

2 thoughts on “F-commerce proving a less than inspiring venture for brands

  1. Bloomberg decided to show only a few failed attempts of F-commerce, and didn’t provide even one brand that succeed in F-commerce (That makes me wonder…).

    We at StoreYa, see enormous traction, there’s an amazing daily growth of merchants, creating their own Facebook shops. There’s no doubt that F-commerce is the next step in the eCommerce evolution, but it will take some time.

    Duplicating your eCommerce store to Facebook will not do the trick..You must provide the merchants with engagement tools, such as: Fans-firsts, Fans exclusive deals & discounts, this adds an important added value to the social shopping experience.

    1. Hi Mia and thanks for your comment.

      It’s good to hear that there are some success stories amongst the multitude of failings that have been publicised of late. Do you have any case studies you could point us to? Would love to find out more.


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