I have loved reading since I learned the skill at a place called school. I remember hiding under the blankets with my bedside lamp reading books about tropical island adventures and pirates as soon as the coast was clear after my parents had inflicted the “lights out” regime every night at the prescribed hour.

To enhance my reading choices but now without the curfew, I have just purchased a Kindle (which is the dedicated e-reader from Amazon) to provide easy instant access to books without waiting for the package to arrive several days later from my favorite online book store.

One thing I have noticed with the dedicated ebook reader is the low friction functionality that it provides that enables you to buy a book that arrives in 30 seconds, with a few clicks of the Kindle’s button with my embedded payment details already in its settings. This highlights the challenges that are being experienced by traditional book stores such as Borders and others who are closing their doors or fighting for survival in a world where many business models are being disrupted and torn apart.

The Challenge

This challenge applies to the other traditional bricks and mortar stores who if they thought that life was going to get any easier after the GFC (Great Financial Crisis) of 2008 then they need to think again. Not only are they having to compete with local competitors just around the corner but with online stores on the other side of the world.

As well as the online ecommerce stores providing another competing channel to high street stores and malls for its customers to purchase, Facebook is starting to provide what is potentially another alternative buying experience with brands such as fashion stores using Facebook to initially

  • Engage with their fans
  • Run surveys
  • Announce and run competitions
  • Offer specials
  • Provide coupons you can print off for a “like” action
  • Display their goods on Facebook with high definition PDF’s, images and online videos

Facebook Shopping Reaches New Heights

Progressive companies are now taking the Facebook shopping experience to a new level with F-Commerce (which you no doubt have already worked out what that means) where you can actually start your shopping in Facebook right up until the actual checkout page where you are directed to the ecommerce site of the online store.

An example of this are companies such as “Vintage Marketplace” and “Grand Social” where you can browse and select but you are redirected to their online store once you want to make a purchase.

So the game is changing!…and it has major implications for retailers and how they continue to market and sell their products and there are now applications that are getting closer to the “social business nirvana” of being able to to have stores within Facebook that keep you totally within Facebook’s ecosystem and that technology is closer than you think.

Stores that are heading towards this social business Facebook nirvana are stores such as Baby and Me Gifts which has its Facebook page powered by BigCommerce which is the same software that runs their e-commerce store.

  • It displays her inventory on her Facebook page at no extra cost
  • Users are then directed to the main site to complete their purchase

This integration with Facebook provides approximately 50% of their online sales and is proving to be as effective as e-mail marketing!

It is early days with F-commerce but there are others such as Live Scribe that use another type of software to achieve a similar Facebook integration with the app system, Storefront Social

More online stores such as Ettitude, which sells products which have a low impact on mother earth, are realizing the power of integrating more deeply into the Facebook ecosystem with its power to leverage your brand and sales through customers sharing their shopping experiences with their friends.

Procter & Gamble dropped an e-commerce application in a “Shop Now” tab on its 200,000-fan-strong fan page. Within an hour, it sold out of the 1,000 Cruiser diaper packs it was offering at $9.99 a pop. The Pampers’ Facebook sales app used Ohio-based digital agency Resource Interactive’s Off the Wall e-commerce technology.

How You Can Start To Integrate Your Online Store With Facebook

  • Facebook contests that request “Likes” can automatically send users to the Facebook store to encourage product browsing.
  • Businesses can post ads, promotions, flash sales, or product-focused press to their Wall and link to the Facebook store’s PDP pages, enabling quick purchasing ability within the social network.
  • By leveraging the Facebook Fans API, brands are empowered to combine “deals of the day” or product announcements with deep links to product detail and purchase pages within the Facebook store. This approach gives the user fast transaction capabilities, while also helping the brand collect the user’s data and demographic details.
  • Facebook is currently testing a “Buy With Friends” program, which allows brands to offer discount incentives to users who encourage their friends to buy the same item by publishing purchases on friends’ news feeds.

The goal of these stores is to not only leverage their social business but reduce the friction for people to buy their products and services in places where they like to hang out. It’s about going to where your customers are (600 million of them) rather than making them come to you.

The F-commerce revolution has arrived and it will produce new business models that will challenge the traditional way of doing business and there will be collateral damage and mass extinctions. Your challenge is not to be a statistic.

By Jeff Bullas

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