Around 2011 everyone was thrilled about social commerce and its subset, Facebook commerce. The opportunity to sell to a billion people that share interests, likes and dislikes seemed very possible. Facebook was also supporting the idea of Facebook commerce. In 2010, Mark Zuckerberg famously noted, “If I had to guess, social commerce is next to blow up.” He was right. It blew up with a lot of companies jumping on the bandwagon. Fast forward to 2013 and everyone is over it. What happened in 2 years? Is Facebook commerce dead?
The majority of criticism is coming from consumer companies who tried to sell detergent and ketchup through Facebook and just can’t seem to grasp why that wouldn’t have worked.
Apart from the naysayers, there are a number of smaller facebook store retailers who are doing well. They seem to have products that are unique or have a good story. If you want somebody to share a product, it cannot be a Heinz ketchup bottle. Don’t get me wrong, I like Heinz. But I don’t love Heinz enough to share it on Facebook.
There are few things that directly impacted the growth of Facebook commerce. One major issue was a change of direction from Facebook. In early 2013, Facebook made some improvements in their mobile platforms. However, they have yet to provide decent access to developers on the Facebook mobile platform like they did for the web-based version. Today, that is one of the main bottleneck issues. I am hoping that sooner or later, Facebook will provide some decent solution for the apps on Facebook.
I see Facebook commerce as complimentary to ecommerce operations. I don’t expect fcommerce to replace it any time.
Facebook commerce acts as a product discovery channel rather than a true sales channel. Aside from some of the enterprise applications, there is no way to measure the conversions resulting from Facebook storefronts to traditional storefronts. This is a feature we are looking to sync with your current ecommerce sites in order to effectively measure conversions.
Most Facebook commerce stores are not designed to be social. The majority of small businesses or medium-sized business have a limited number of engaged fans. They assume if you place a Facebook version of an ecommerce store, users would find it and buy products. Unfortunately that’s not the case. The question is, how do retailers reach out to friends of fans? Facebook is very effective in identifying who to reach out to for specific products. That is not yet fully available for app developers. We tried to work around this issue using Ravox Marketplace and Social Affiliates.
As others mentioned, I believe Facebook commerce is still in its infancy. Those who start in the early stages will be the ones to reap the benefits. In the early stages of ecommerce, there was a similar sentiment about the efficiency and validity of ecommerce also.