One of the key trends in the new Econsultancy E-commerce Platforms Guide is that of a marked integration between social media and the e-commerce environment.

Social media has long been a strategic element within online retailing, long before the marketing term for this activity became fashionable. But which is best: using social media to help you sell, or solely relying on selling through social media?

A recent article on AdAge caught my eye which explores this, by considering the potential rise of “f-commerce”, or in other words, Facebook commerce.

It’s hard to not appreciate the commercial nature of Facebook. (In fact, it’s something we’ve covered a lot). With over 400m active users, there’s a lot of money to be made and the site is probing ways to exploit this.

Only a few weeks ago, various reports were circulating that the company generated $635m during 2009 and could well be on track to make over a billion dollars by the end of this year. 

Astonishingly, some analysts are now predicting the company to be worth $35bn. Although I think this may be a little bullish at the moment, it’s easy to see why. Consider the opportunities; Facebook relies heavily on display advertising, which it recently announced it would be refining, sending out signals that it’s serious about increasing revenues. 

Furthermore, the internet is buzzing with the site’s suggestion that it’s considering passing across personal data to select third-parties in order to create a more “personalised” experience. However, this is a slightly separate issue to Facebook actually turning itself into an e-commerce platform of sorts – the fact that Facebook partnered itself with PayPal last year is perhaps more telling or its e-commerce ambitions. 

Interestingly, Facebook doesn’t currently take commission from any physical e-commerce sales made on-site, but it does collect 30% on purchases of virtual goods, which is estimated to be worth some $5bn annually. Yet, this may change in the very near future, especially as the likes of Real Gifts emerge. (Real Gifts is a startup that pretty much delivers what its name suggests and claims to already have had “significant interest from big brands”). 

However, it’s the new Facebook app SocialShop from BigCommerce which really gives a clue as to the direction the site is steering towards.

So now it’s possible for organisations with fan pages to display and sell products via Facebook. Admittedly, the transaction isn’t yet done through the site, but I imagine it’s genuinely not far off. Already, Payvement has used PayPal’s API to create an application that allows anyone to build an e-commerce storefront. 

Consequently, the sheer scale and weight that can potentially be leveraged through 'f-commerce' is pretty exciting. Companies are already experimenting in this arena and the results are positive. By adding e-commerce functionality to Facebook, or even building an e-commerce platform into the site itself, I’m expecting to see a very real, very fast uptake amongst both consumers and retailers alike.

I’d also argue that it makes sense this will probably more happen than not, as everyone benefits. Consumers are given the option of purchasing through an extra channel and retailers are given the option of having an extra channel to sell through, to relevant customers.

It’s well noted that the biggest challenges this supersite faces will be retaining its astronomic user-base, along with turning a profit, and 'f-commerce' has the potential to provide extra revenue streams for the site. 

Jake Hird

Published 29 March, 2010 by Jake Hird

Jake Hird is Econsultancy Australia's Director of Research and Education. Follow him on Twitter and Google+, connect with him on LinkedIn or see what he's keeping an eye on via diigo

126 more posts from this author

You might be interested in

Comments (11)

Save or Cancel


Actually, it's been possible for organizations with fan pages to sell products on Facebook for quite awhile already. started offering its Merchant Store application to retailers in October of 2008 and now has more than 1,000 retailers of every size and scope operating virtual storefronts on Facebook as a result. Seeing as they're already established and offering so much to so many, it's obvious that Sortprice is miles ahead of BigCommerce in the movement to help retailers expand to social media channels.

about 8 years ago



Juste a clone app like Shopializable from Magavenue. (For prestashop : and soon for Magento).

about 8 years ago



ShopVisible has also launched a shopping app for its e-commerce clients.  Oddly enough, even though I have been involved in e-commerce for over 7 years I have avoided having a Facebook account.  Guess I might have to finally give in ;)

about 8 years ago

Jon Vlahhos

Jon Vlahhos, Manager at Coming

Nice piece.

Just shows how important it is for eCommerce vendors to keep their platform upto date with the latest social sites. Intespire has done a good job with BigCommerce, and it's quiet easy to use as well.

Something that many online businesses have to tap into. A friend on facebook is surely easier to pitch a new product or service to than a visitor from a google search. Conversion rates will be better.

Thanks for info. Jon

about 8 years ago



I share the jon's opinion, a good level for to make a conversion for a friend of mine, better efficiency than by google search.

about 8 years ago


Orange Snowman

Just this weekend I learned to how to build an e-commerce store in Facebook. I was like a child telling people about my discovery. I think you are pointing to something that’s going to be BIG! This is a very exciting field. I know I may sound naive for this technology has been available since 2008. Wow! I feel young again.

about 8 years ago


Hannah Rampton

Thank you. A great article and a very interesting topic, however one note:

You said: "Furthermore, the internet is buzzing with the site’s suggestion that it’s considering passing across personal data to select third-parties in order to create a more “personalised” experience."

It is my understanding that no personal data is shared through the Open Graph changes to Facebook... The websites which display the data have no access to this at all. This is automatically pulled through if you are already logged into Facebook. :)

about 8 years ago


Harsh Shah


I want to open a f-commerce cart for my products. I want to know what would be the cost implications if i want one?

over 7 years ago


Custom Facebook Fan Page Design

Its no doubt that facebook pages would prove to be a better platform to connect with users/customers. This in turn will provide further scope for f-commerce to expand. The viral nature of Facebook is a strong factor that drives the adoption rate of f-commerce.

about 7 years ago




almost 7 years ago


Fatih Doğan

That seems quite a nostalgia now...

over 5 years ago

Save or Cancel

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Digital Pulse newsletter. You will receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.