Amid growing signs that Facebook commerce, or F-Commerce as it is sometimes called, is gaining momentum comes the story of Gamestop Corp. Last April it opened a storefront on the social networking site. Six month later, it deemed the project a failure and quietly shuttered operations. (via Bloomberg). Nor is it alone—Gap, J.C. Penney and Nordstrom have followed similar paths on Facebook.
However, there are also plenty of examples of retailers deciding now is the time to open Facebook storefronts as well.
Not a Success So Far
Still, the prevailing sentiment is that F-Commerce does not offer a sure path to success—at least not like a robust marketing presence on Facebook does. Facebook storefronts have not been a leading source of e-commerce transactions, despite the platform's huge user base.
Only 20% of consumers who say they are active internet users have purchased something directly within Facebook, according to a study released by ThreatMetrix in partnership with the Ponemon Institute.
A separate study, by Oracle, found that 34% of American and Canadian consumers say they would never purchase products via a retailer’s Facebook page, compared to 19% who said they would (9%) or already have (10%) done so.
Best Practices for a Sector in Its Infancy
F-Commerce is still in its infancy, however, so it is not likely die off any time soon. As more stores close—and open—on the site, though, it is worthwhile to examine what they are doing well, and not so well.
Don't dilute your overall brand. If a company is not careful a Facebook storefront could dilute the brand, warns Anton Gething, co-founder & Product Director at social commerce experts nToklo. (via Retail Gazette). "If clothing manufacturers continue to try and sell their products through Facebook stores, the consumer quickly becomes used to engaging with Facebook to make their purchase, without having any meaningful contact with the brand that they are buying from," he said.
It's a social platform–so be informational and collaborative. So says Mike Magolnick, writing for the Daily Disruption. "Facebook is all about the emotional connection. … Don’t fall into the sales rhetoric that tells you to sell them on the spot or you will lose them. People are a lot smarter than that. Trust me, if clicking a link on Facebook to go buy what they want from your website is too much work for them, then they are probably not going to be that stellar customer you’re targeting to help explode your business anyway."
Be trustworthy. One reason brands’ Facebook retail endeavors have not succeeded is that consumers do not trust these particular storefronts, according to the ThreatMetrix study. Brands that can develop a more personal and one-on-one–relationship with their consumers may be they can succeed where other Facebook retails storefronts, have not.