My bearishness on F-commerce is no secret, so I may have been a little biased when I dove into my most recent research, Will Facebook Ever Drive eCommerce? Fortunately, the findings were nuanced among different types of retailers, which gave a lot to write about. Some highlights:
- There are retailers (albeit small ones) seeing a double-digit percent of their sales coming through their Facebook stores. These companies often have unique demographics or marketing models (e.g., flash sales) that drive this behavior.
- Facebook’s “data layer” is probably one of the most underleveraged assets that exists with respect to F-commerce. There is myriad information about fans, what products consumers are liking, and competitive insights that can be gleaned from merchant and consumer activity on and off Facebook.
- Facebook Credits is a non-starter for most retailers. This is the “currency” that consumers can use to buy, say, potatoes on Farmville. Facebook, however, has little to no credibility with respect to financial services among consumers, and the same retailers reluctant to implement PayPal (which so many large merchants are) will be 10 times more resistant to a less-tried, less-reliable, newer payment mark.
That said, F-commerce may come alive for large merchants yet. I met a startup called ShopSocially at Channel Advisor’s Catalyst conference yesterday, and it claims to have metrics that prove just that (I didn’t interview it for this document). Stay tuned . . . I’ll report back once I hear more of its story, but my initial reaction is that the best of Facebook is already here. In the interim, let’s hear from readers: What successes or failures are you seeing in S-commerce and F-Commerce?