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F-Commerce (Facebook): Flop or Flourish?

By | August 23, 2012

Considering the rapid growth of e-commerce, it’s no surprise that Facebook jumped on board back in 2009. Facebook stores have faced their challenges, and critics have been quick to point out the drawbacks, but things may be looking up for small and medium sized businesses utilizing f-commerce.

One of the biggest hurdles businesses have faced since incorporating Facebook and social media into their online marketing plans has been the inability to accurately report ROI.  But throw in the option for consumers to actually participate in monetary transactions via Facebook and this hurdle becomes something that businesses can overcome. This may sound easy, but it is largely dependent on a brand’s current social media strategy and their ability to employ a successful f-commerce solution.

Initial f-commerce success stories have come from big brand names, such as Coca-Cola, Starbucks and Disney, which can leave many smaller businesses feeling like they can’t compete. The truth is several huge brands have failed at the f-commerce game, such as Gap and Nordstrom, while data from the performance of 40,000 companies (most SMBs) with Facebook stores found that 17.7% of their overall revenues came from Facebook stores.

So, why did these big brands fail? And what are the keys to f-commerce success? Although there may not be one simple answer or solution to these questions, there are definitely some things to keep in mind for small businesses looking to take the f-commerce leap.

First, never forget the importance of your fans and their social engagement. Answer questions, respond to feedback and be personable with your followers. If someone has a complaint, don’t just throw out a customer service number and avoid the problem. And when you introduce you store, don’t let it overtake your page. Let your followers know about it as if they were your friends and avoid hawking your products. Be open and candid with your customers – they’ll like and respect you more for it.

Secondly, offer discounts and promotions that are exclusive to your fans. Reward followers for their engagement with your page. Maybe you have a “fan of the week” who received the most comments and likes on a comment or photo they posted. If fans can see the benefit of participating with your brand on Facebook, they will be more likely to take part in the conversation and ultimately share their experiences with friends.

Third, don’t just throw some money at the creation of your Facebook store and expect it to work. Usability and CRO are just as important when it comes to f-commerce as they are to e-commerce. People may already be wary about stepping out of their comfort zones and purchasing through a social media outlet. Don’t add trickiness to the mix or most people will probably leave the page before getting past step one of your purchase funnel.

The biggest takeaway from the entire f-commerce buzz is that it isn’t just a bandwagon to be jumped on. Facebook stores require thought and strategy just like every other part of your online marketing mix. The timing and the environment need to be right and you need to have a supportive fan base. Lastly, don’t forget that f-commerce is still in its infancy and will require that all users be adaptable. If your store doesn’t work at first, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will never be successful. The f-commerce business is a risk and your approach to it might require some tweaks before you get it right.

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About Danielle Kolesar

Danielle Kolesar is a marketing analyst with the research & strategy department at Fathom. She graduated from Baldwin-Wallace College with a degree in communication studies. As a marketing analyst, Danielle supplements the sales and marketing team with both broad industry and specific business research.

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