Felicity Long in Retail Week: How will Facebook’s shoppable brand pages impact the etail channel?
Facebook is taking another crack at becoming an ecommerce contender after listening to brands that made a first foray into Facebook Stores.
Facebook is back with another crack at making its site a genuine contender in the ecommerce world and it seems it has listened to the feedback from the brands which had made a first foray into Facebook Stores.
Will it be a success though?
First, let’s take a look at why Facebook Stores weren’t as much of a success as Facebook had hoped, starting with the customer.
For a customer to want to shop somewhere other than the brand’s own ecommerce site, the experience on the new platform has to be at least on par if not better.
However, this was simply not the case with Facebook Stores. The experience was slow, limiting and ultimately customers still had to leave the Facebook platform to make a purchase.
In addition to this, customers weren’t in the mindset to purchase whilst in the Facebook environment.
From the brand’s perspective, Facebook was and is an effective driver to ecommerce sites for advertisers, allowing them to generate a decent volume of traffic to brands’ ecommerce sites at low cost in comparison to using search engines like Google.
However, investing development and management time into Facebook Stores simply didn’t pay back in sales volume.
So what’s changed?
Firstly customers have changed, the surge of mobile device usage continues to accelerate the number of people engaging in m-commerce. The pervasiveness of mobile devices has created a different landscape to the one available when Facebook Stores was first launched.
People now spend 80% of their time on mobile and just 5% of their time on apps giving Facebook a significant advantage in allowing access to customers.
Consumers are now much more open to mobile purchases; anecdotally a friend announced to me yesterday “my wife bought a sofa on her mobile – a sofa – one swipe and we’ve got a sofa.”
This trend will continue as we become more confident and comfortable with mobile purchases – a trend which will be driven even further by our mobile becoming our wallet with the introduction of Apple Pay and other payment services.
In addition, the shopping experience on Facebook has changed. Customers will now be able to browse, select and purchase without having to leave Facebook, greatly improving their experience. Whether this will continue to be slow to load as per the previous Facebook Shops remains to be seen.
The sticky question as to whether customers are in the mindset for purchases whilst in the Facebook environment still needs to be addressed.
I believe the most successful brands will really think about what they are selling and try to match any approach to customers with this. For example, there are specific times of the day when customers are more likely to want to add food to their shopping basket so brands can talk to them then on the social platform.
Equally, combining Facebook’s content approach with people’s shopping experience to inspire them to make a purchase, is more likely to capture their attention when selling clothes or home furnishings.
The data available from selling on Facebook will enable brands to add further insight to their understanding of consumer behaviour. Ensuring that this is ingested and that the commerce approach is adapted, will be key.
All the foundations are there for Facebook’s latest move to be a success but it will depend on a speedy and engaging customer experience, and listening effectively to customer data signals.
Whether brands want to relinquish that much control to Facebook is another question entirely.
This article first appeared in Retail Week on 21/07/15