Multi-channel electronics specialist Maplin is launching a fully transactional store on the Facebook platform. Through it and using PayPal as a service provider, Maplin customers can make purchases from the company’s full product line within the social media space for the first time. Maplin's Facebook store also interacts with Facebook's social features such as birthdays.
Factors that Have Limited F-commerce
Maplin, however, is in the minority of retailers embracing Facebook as a sales channel, although there are signs that is starting to change. Still, there are challenges keeping F-Commerce, as it is sometimes called, from gaining significant momentum. Security is one. 53% of consumers who say they are active Internet users do not believe that Facebook’s storefronts are committed to protecting them against fraud, with a further 23% saying they are unsure, according to a study by ThreatMetrix in partnership with the Ponemon Institute.
In fact, 51% of respondents say that Google is more effective than Facebook at keeping them safe from online criminals, and only 20% have purchased something directly within Facebook.
Another challenge has been the more amorphous question of definition. Gavin Sathianathan, Facebook’s strategic partner manager in the UK told Marketing Week that agreed definitions are a key building block in its evolution. “It’s really important we nail what we mean by 'social commerce'," he said.
"At Facebook, we do not equate 'social commerce' with opening a store within the network." Defining social commerce as a transactional store on Facebook is restrictive Sathianathan said. "When I talk to retailers about this, I try to make it clear that it’s about how we can bring social media to bear on the purchase process, be that in a Facebook store or not."
He said the company is reaching out to retailers whose goods or services are not necessarily social—such as grocers—and speaking with them about the social aspects of their products. “For instance, a can of baked beans may not be social but the meal you have them with could."
Open Graph, Timeline
Merchants might also want to consider taking advantage of Facebook’s Open Graph and Timeline, Practical E-Commerce says in this article. "Open Graph" allows retailers to better interact with Facebook users as it is a transmission tool to get information into Facebook from other websites and vice-versa.
On January 18, Facebook extended it to include actions created by third-party apps.
In addition, Practical E-Commerce said, the release of Timeline lets users create "Life Events," such as a marriage, birth of a child, graduation from college, and a job change.