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At the end of September, Magners announced that it is starting to sell limited edition cider directly via its Facebook page.
Asos was the first UK retailer to open a fully transactional Facebook store in January this year.
On the face of it, f-commerce seems to be taking off, so should brands be launching F-commerce stores?
Brands use Facebook for two reasons: to reach the widest pool of consumers by going where their customers are congregating; and because of the potential for consumers to share information with each other, effectively marketing the brand to their friends.
According to the blog Digital Douks, ASOS has reported that social commerce has been slow to provide financial returns.
But with ASOS being ‘the best loved digital brand’ (according to a report by Tamar), social commerce must be part of, but not all, of the commercial mix.
So why do consumers use brands on Facebook? Ultimately, they’ll buy from retailers they know and trust. A social media campaign may not yet mean that consumers buy from the brand on Facebook, but if ASOS is anything to go by, it will influence sales through the brand’s site.
And, after all, isn’t that a better result for the retailer who’ll have more control over the buying process?
Some purchases are inherently social. The Michael Jackson Tribute concert on 8 October was supposed to streamed live on Facebook, and charged per view (although for rights reasons, this didn't happen at the last minute). F-commerce will be most successful where it is directly linked to what is (or should be) a social experience.
But f-commerce shouldn’t be simply a replica of an e-commerce experience. Nor should it cannibalise sales from the brand’s website. Facebook can be a great place to trial exclusive or new products (as Magners is doing – though whether people will buy beer online is anyone’s guess), as long as the brand is prepared to listen to feedback and act on it.
All the things that make Facebook a great place to market a brand – the sharing of information and opinions between friends – also make it a terrible and public place to ignore criticism.
Ultimately, f-commerce will take off when consumers decide that they’d prefer to buy from Facebook than from the brand direct. And brands need to be ready.