F-commerce was a hot topic at WOMMA’s School of WOM last week while success is still largely unproven, some see it as a clear way to start tying social media efforts back to sales the Holy Grail for any brand that’s shifting its budget over to Facebook.
For those new to the topic, f-commerce can refer to sales taking place on Facebook (using a credit card or other form of currency like Facebook Credits), sales taking place on a brand website using Facebook open graph/social plug-ins, and sales taking place at brick-and-mortar locations using Facebook Deals or open graph functionality.
1-800-Flowers set up shop on Facebook in the summer of 2009. Almost two years later, while a whole host of brands have jumped on board, f-commerce is still far from having reached a critical mass. So, what’s stopping consumers (and brands) from diving headfirst into f-commerce?
We’ve grown accustomed to choice. First it was big box stores one-stop-shops offering everything we needed in one place. Next it moved online with price comparison websites, aggregators and social shopping sites that allowed us to browse products across brands, categories and retailers. Although 50% of all Facebook users log-in on any given day and are exposed to their favorite brands in their newsfeeds, does that mean that they’ll revert back to being satisfied with the siloed experience of being limited to one brand, category or retailer at a time?
Brand loyalists especially those who are already participating in loyalty programs will be the early adopters. They have an incentive not to shop around, online or offline. But what about everyone else? To help answer that question, it is important to understand the scope and trajectory of e-commerce as a whole.
Although growing (up 12% vs. year ago according to Comscore), e-commerce continues to drive a relatively small percentage of all U.S. retail sales. Forrester predicts that 11% of all retail sales will take place online by 2015 and Booz & Co. estimates that U.S. social commerce sales will reach $14B by 2015, up from $1B in 2011.
In order to see substantial growth among the everyday consumer (i.e. not brand loyalists), brands will need to wholeheartedly get behind their f-commerce strategies, investing in the technology and user experience, as well the as advertising dollars required to drive awareness. Brands will need to offer incentives that outweigh the benefits of shopping around, and reverse the trend in consumer behavior that attaches value to being able to browse, without the boundaries of brands, retailers or categories.
How long do you think it will take for f-commerce to make a dent in a brand’s total sales?