As with any social initiative, we want to first examine where our customers are. If you already have a very engaged Facebook presence, with product-focused sharing and engagement happening frequently, then it is possible to succeed with a Facebook storefront such as Payvment (hosts the whole store on Facebook) or StorefrontSocial (connects to your existing ecommerce solution).
However, there are some solid case studies to suggest that just porting your existing ecommerce efforts over to Facebook won’t work too well without some solid strategy and respect for the unique Facebook ecosystem.
David Moth of econsultancy.com posts some interesting feedback from Heinz and Nokia on their efforts to use Facebook as an ecommerce platform. In short, they didn’t feel it was that successful.
[Heinz Ketchup] Fans posted pictures of themselves with their new bottle, some even going so far as to take it on holiday with them. But there were also complaints about the buying process.
“Hosting the e-commerce page within Facebook actually put people off as it’s not a trusted platform for making a purchase. It created a lot of nervousness.”
As a result, for a subsequent campaign to promote personalised cans of tomato soup Heinz chose to use PayPal instead of selling directly on Facebook.
“Despite making the purchase journey a bit longer, we had no complaints as PayPal is a trusted online payment tool.”
Personally, I think this a transient effect – PayPal had similar “trust” issues when they were starting out. However, there may be little reason to invest time or money in a storefront while that ‘macro trend’ of trust issues is still in play.
Nokia’s experience was also referenced in this article. and their global editor-in-chief for social media Thomas Messett opined that too many companies use Facebook as a way to give away cheap products or discounts, which has no long-term benefit to the brand.
If you put something cheap on your fan page, people will ‘like’ you to get something cheap. It doesn’t actually mean anything.
I agree with this, and it gets back to my original point about strategy. Each social media outpost you engage with is its own unique ecosystem. Ecommerce sites – while we don’t traditionally think of them as social media outposts – are ecosystems nonetheless. When you are “ready to buy” a range of social and personal buying behaviors manifest. These are not necessarily the same expectations and behaviors that fans have on sites like Facebook.
So when developing an ecommerce strategy for Facebook, respect the ecosystem and setup a campaign, infrastructure, and communication framework that works for Facebook. Being specific and sensitive to your ecosystem gives you the best opportunity for success with a Facebook (or any) storefront.