Facebook’s Latest E-Commerce Initiative Aims to Transform its Users into Shoppers
Last year, Facebook introduced the “buy” call-to-action button to its ads and Page posts, enabling desktop and mobile users to make purchases directly from merchants without leaving Facebook. Recently, Facebook announced via BuzzFeed (@BuzzFeed) that it would be taking its e-commerce initiative even further by establishing virtual stores within Facebook Pages.
Alex Kantrowitz (@Kantrowitz), senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News, called these virtual stores “e-commerce sites that give businesses a chance to set up second homes within [Facebook Pages’] walls.” The initiative is still in its early testing phase, and is so hush-hush that Facebook has yet to reveal the list of merchants who’re participating in the project.
Figure 1 is a mock-up of Facebook’s new e-commerce initiative (which was published on BuzzFeed News). It’s clear from the mock-up that shops will appear directly below the “About” section.
“With the shop section on the page, we’re now providing businesses with the ability to showcase their products directly on the page,” Emma Rodgers, Facebook Product Marketing Manager, told BuzzFeed News.
If virtual stores within Facebook Pages takes off, it could radically change the way merchants sell products to customers online, as well as the way customers discover and purchase products online. Facebook would be transformed from a social media channel that nurtures leads into a channel that converts leads into customers.
Will Facebook Lead the Social Commerce Revolution? Experts Provide Conflicting Opinions
In an online discussion that took place on RetailWire (@retailwire), panelists on the RetailWire BrainTrust provided conflicting opinions about Facebook’s ability to transform its users into shoppers.
Chris Petersen of Integrated Marketing Solutions, believes that Facebook’s buy button would work best for impulse purchases, or when consumers are at the point in their purchase paths when they’re ready to buy. Due to these limitations, the Facebook buy button probably won’t be a significant source of retail sales—at least not at the moment.
“How many times do you go onto Facebook looking for product pages or purchase options? Even if a friend recommends something, where do you go? Typically not a product page on Facebook!”
Other pundits provided less than positive opinions. Tom Redd of SAP (@SAP) highlighted the lack of security and invasion of privacy presented by Facebook’s increasing ventures into e-commerce.
After [consumers] see and learn how Facebook is going deeper into their lives and personal data as they shop via Facebook it will stop. Even Millennials will start to say NO MORE. Once the scams with shopping on Facebook hit and the lack of security shows it will all come to a screechin’ halt.
Ralph Jacobson of IBM (@IBM) provides a more positive analysis. Jacobson notes that Facebook has made great strides to ensure that it’s helping marketers and merchants deliver more personalized and targeted ads to their audiences. Facebook’s latest e-commerce initiative could successfully drive conversions and sales for merchants.
For more in-depth analysis, check out George Anderson’s article on Forbes (@Forbes).
Will Facebook’s latest e-commerce initiative drive sales for different merchants? State your opinions in the Comments section below.
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