The entire purpose of content and social media marketing is to drive people back to your site, so that they can ultimately buy what you’re promoting. It may take some time, but eventually you turn your social media followers into site visitors, site visitors into leads and leads into sales. This is social e-commerce, and it’s a complex process. But now there’s a marketing innovation that may simplify things: Facebook Storefronts, occasionally called f-commerce. They allow you to eliminate the middleman and sell products directly from your Facebook page.
Through Facebook, a customer can buy virtual content like apps or gift cards, as well as actual physical products delivered right to their door, directly from a company’s profile. Facebook even suggests that, for friends’ birthdays and other milestones, you not only post on their wall, but also send them a gift, ranging from food to cosmetics to kitchen supplies and more.
If your brand signs up for this service, Facebook adds a tab to your page that allows people to browse your selection and make a purchase. It’s convenient for you, the seller, because you can eliminate a lot of those extra steps involved in sale generation and sell directly to anyone on Facebook. It’s convenient for your customers, since they can buy a product as soon as they see it on your page, without having to leave the site or look it up elsewhere.
So, is f-commerce a worthwhile endeavor? Well, it depends on who you are and what you’re selling. It’s still a relatively new option, and some customers are hesitant to get on board with it. According to Bloomberg financial news, a number of larger department stores such as Nordstrom and J.C. Penney reportedly closed their Facebook stores within a year of opening them, finding that they weren’t paying off well enough to be maintained. It may be slightly more convenient, but the “buy without leaving Facebook” factor isn’t as appealing to customers as they thought. Since browsers can support multiple tabs, looking a product up for purchase on the company’s actual website after finding it on Facebook takes maybe an extra 30 seconds, tops.
According to Forbes, though, Facebook stores are better-suited to smaller businesses and niche markets, that sell more specific products that aren’t as readily available elsewhere, or are being sold at a deep discount. The convenience level is raised when it’s something harder to find, and people are more likely to make a purchase if they feel they’re getting an exclusive deal. And the products on your Facebook storefront are available not just to your followers, but are searchable to all of Facebook’s users, which can widen your customer base—something much more appealing to a smaller business than an internationally known department store. For this reason, f-commerce also lends itself to impulse buying and last-minute gift shopping. Forgot to get your dad something for Father’s Day this year? Facebook has you covered.
And like any other retail opportunity, how well it does depends on how you market it. With good deals, exclusive offers, a contest or giveaway and general dedicated promotion, you can make your Facebook storefront pay off. Or you can take those same tactics and put them into driving people back to your own website. It all depends on what you think is best for your business.