You use Facebook to explore and express. You also use it to market your product. Why not use it to sell your product as well? With the concept of Facebook commerce (also known as F-commerce) you actually do so.
F-commerce uses Facebook applications to create marketplaces on the social media platform. Why should you do it and how does it work is what we intend to answer through this article.
Firstly, why is f-commerce required?
Time happens to be even more precious when it is of a potential customer. If someone got to know about your e-commerce venture though Facebook, why redirect them to another link when the purchase/selling can be done on Facebook itself? Also, increasingly everything online is becoming a ‘social’ experience, monetising through Facebook can be an interesting strategy.
(let’s earn some bucks while the advertising and promoted posts drain it all away) Now, coming to how you can set up f-commerce on your Facebook brand page. Like always, life gives us two paths to choose. One is the easy way (read free) and one is hard way (get ready to shell out money). Since, we are the navigators here, we lay down both of them for you.
The easy way
The easy way is to set up a tab that opens your website on Facebook. A few brands like ENAH do the same. ENAH, which is a fashion e-commerce store uses an Fcommerce tab to open their website within the Facebook framework. So you are not exactly leaving Facebook in order to visit their website. This takes under 5 minutes to set up. See a step by step guide on how to do so here. One can also choose to program a custom Facebook application for the same purpose.
Pros: Its cost effective. Since, you are opening just the website and aren’t creating a separate marketplace, there are no concerns of third party involvement.
Cons: It can be slower and the interface is not exactly engaging. (since it happens to be the same as your website)
The hard way
Like many services that are better when paid, f-commerce happens to be one of them. You can either create a custom application or make use of already existing services like Beetailer and StoreYa to handle the task. How these services work is that they stay in sync with your existing e-commerce stores set up on platforms such as Magenta, Etsy, PrestaShop, Shopify and Wordpress. If your platform is not supported you can also create a store from scratch. Other services like Ecwid let you create marketplaces for both your website and Facebook. Needless to say, you manage one and the other stays in sync.
Pricing and plans are dependent upon the number of products that you want to list on your store. For as less as 30 products, you might be able to also rope in a free plan. A 500 product store with CSS editing capabilities can cost around 50 dollars per month (approx. INR 2800) on Beetailer. While the same without CSS editing capabilities is a 10 dollar per month plan (Approx. INR 550) on StoreYa.
Online Indian stores such as Indiatimes shopping and PosterGully use Beetailer for their f-commerce solutions. Though the store on Indiatimes is not that well categorized. Popular music artists such as Lady Gaga and Green Day have music and merchandise stores made by Bravado on their official Facebook Pages. Steve Madden India has a Facebook commerce application put in place, which is powered by StoreYa. So overall, it happens to be a fairly popular concept.
Below is a screenshot from PosterGully’s store on Beetailer. As you can see, the application integrates likes, comments, tweets and pins into the shopping experience.
Steve Madden India’s store on StoreYa has an additional option of “Want it” and “Own it” for you to share with your friends.
Pros: It is built for the social experience and has a better user interface that is both attractive and fast. Even if you don’t have an e-commerce website, you can create a store on Facebook.
Cons: Not exactly cost effective if at the end you aren’t able to sell your product on Facebook.
What should you keep in mind
We asked Bharat Sethi, Founder of PosterGully.com (an online fan merchandise store) about the necessity of f-commerce and the tricky stuff around it. Here is what he replied:
So, why F-Commerce? A very intuitive answer to this is people love shopping with friends, so why not extend that online? F-commerce is imperative because it is the only viable form for a social and online merchandise store. Both because of the popularity and the scope of the medium involved. But having said that, it is risky to build & run businesses on top of other platforms like FB because as developers they can change the game whenever they like.
And that sums up majority of what f-commerce is all about. We shop with friends physically, why not shop with friends online as well? F-commerce is about adding that zing of social to online shopping. Though an interesting concept, it can get tricky because at the end you are dependent on an external platform for support.
Closing suggestion? Never make your Facebook page all about selling your product. F-commerce is an important leg of it, but in the end Facebook is a medium for engagement and a great tool for two-way communication and that should be your first priority.
F-Commerce socializes the customer decision making process as most purchases are out of peer recommendation. After all shopping is a social activity! Users can have a look at their wishlist later and and by them whenever they want. Besides sales, the want button gives insights about which product is in demand, whom to target with discounts
Hopefully, this will make you look at that f-commerce portal you wanted to set up with a whole new perspective. Have a f-commerce experience to share? Feel free to share in the comments!