I can almost perform my daily rituals on Facebook like it is part of my innate nature – Automatically log on to Facebook once I’m connected to the internet, check for notifications, read my news feed page, post and comment on wall posts. Sometimes, I see a friend share a page or a link on Facebook – either a new deal on Groupon, some huge discounts on Facebook deals or simply, a ‘like’ on a new ‘fan’ page of some prominent brands like ASOS and H&M.
What more can Facebook do, I ask myself. And so, I embarked on a search and yes, apart from Facebook being a platform for companies and retailers to have a part in social commerce, Facebook has gradually created a market on its own and coin a new term for itself – F-commerce.
Imagine Facebook being a shopping mall where you can purchase apparels, shoes, beauty and fashion products, travel deals from. Hey wait, there is no need for imagination – it has already happened.
Social Commerce Today has defined f-commerce as the use of Facebook as a platform for facilitating and executing sales transactions– either on Facebook itself or externally via the Facebook Open Graph. They also provided a very helpful FAQ for people who are interested in what f-commerce is and different kinds of F-commerce and which companies are using f-commerce.
I was amazed to see the extensive range and number of big brands joining in the movement of f-commerce. For instance, ASOS (UK e-tailer store) opens a full f-store with international delivery. Delta Airlines is the first airline ticketing store on Facebook.
While retailers are psyched about experimenting with f-commerce, Danielle Pinnington, managing director at Shoppercentric, advises companies to take a step back to take time to understand what the shoppers want from them and avoid a ‘jump-into-it because everyone is doing it’ approach. The research Shoppercentric has conducted revealed relatively poor performance of social media as a commerce platform as 63% of shoppers make purchase on retailers’ websites as compared to 6% through social media. They also highlighted concerns that some shoppers do not see the benefits that f-commerce brings them especially if it is merely a duplicated site from its retailer’s website.
Sucharita Mulpuru, analyst at Forrester, also leaned towards the view of denying the viability of f-commerce. She reveals research findings that only 7% of retailers say Facebook is an effective customer acquisition source and that Facebook can only generate a 1% click-through rate, with only 2% of those people converting to actual customers.
Despite negative opinions on how f-commerce may merely be a fad, or simply a passing phase, there has been arguments how the slow adoption of consumers purchasing through Facebook or social media can draw parallel to how e-commerce industry was being developed at a slow rate about 10 years ago. Furthermore, Tomio Geron seems to have a positive outlook on the future of f-commerce, sharing research that retail sales on Facebook in 2011 may be IRO $100million.
F-commerce is indeed a new bud from e-commerce that is slowly budding and the question is whether the bud will flower and retailers can reap their fruits of labor.
As a consumer myself, f-commerce may really provide the convenience of being present in where I surf, where I spend my time online. How psyched would I be if I would be able to purchase something I fancy through my news feed directly or from facebook itself without being directed to any other websites?
Of course, f-commerce would more likely take off if the retailers are able to integrate social commerce elements in their f-store instead of merely a replicate of their e-commerce website. I would love to see daily deals or fan-exclusive deals popping on my news feed. Daily deals, fan-exclusive deals or items can draw consumers to share your products on their news feed. Fulfilling the prophecy that friends’ and family’s recommendations are highly regarded, retailers may just see themselves having more people viewing their products, purchasing those special deals and in turn, drive more traffic. They call it the power of ‘word of click’.
For me, f-commerce provides me another avenue where I could do my shopping in, and this new mall in town may very well be entertaining, convenient and beneficial (if retailers provide what the consumers expect – differentiation from their usual webstores) and a place where I can shop in the comfort of my home or cozy couch.
So, are you for the f-commerce movement?