By Allyson Rees, WGSN, 23 March 2011

WGSN looks at how retailers and social-media platforms are monetising the web’s most-visited destination.

With more than 600 million users, Facebook has surpassed Google as the world’s most popular website, and retailers are quickly tapping into the relatively untouched Facebook commerce, or f-commerce, market.





23 March 2011


Keeping it social

The fundamental difference between e-commerce and f-commerce is the social exchange that happens between users while shopping on Facebook. “Facebook is not a browsing environment,” says David Raycroft, co-founder and VP of product and operations for Milyoni (pronounced Million-eye), a company that helps brands build Facebook stores based on the company’s f-commerce solution, Conversational Commerce. “It’s very much a two-way conversation that occurs.” He explains that because offline shopping in traditional bricks-and-mortar stores is extremely social and often occurs surrounded by friends, online shopping needs to maintain the social, conversational feel.

Milyoni has found their success with what Raycroft calls “passion industries” such as sports and entertainment, where fans are dedicated and outspoken about their love of brands. Sports teams such as the Miami Heat and entertainment brands such as Showtime’s Dexter use commerce-driven wall postings to bring traffic to their Facebook store in engaging, passion-driven ways. “Is it’s not just ‘buy product, buy product’,” says Raycroft. “It’s ‘Here’s the new line for spring,’ presented in a very tidy little assortment on your news feed, where you can scroll through the products and make a purchase right there.”

Milyoni has found that redirecting users to other sites for point of purchase stops transactions immediately. “If people are shopping with friends in real life, and they are redirected to a store a mile down the street, that would be disruptive to hanging out with friends,” says Raycroft.






17 March 2011


Comfort and continuity

Passion industries are not the only brands selling on Facebook. Larger retail channels such as JC Penney and asos are also offering their complete product assortment on the social-networking site with the help of Usablenet, a platform that allows companies to take their current retail channel and integrate it into new environments including tablets, mobile phones and social networks.

For those retailers, continuity is paramount. E-commerce sites already have specific user experiences and ways of buying, and features such as logins, stored credit cards and wish lists must remain consistent for customer comfort and brand image. Usablenet maintains these consistencies, while injecting Facebook’s application programming interfaces like sharing, comments and Likes.

“If you go to the asos Facebook store, you can browse, search and buy any product, but you can also share products, write reviews and include your Like comments, all inside the site,” says Jason Taylor, Usablenet’s VP of platform strategy. “If they share a product on their wall, everyone of their friends sees they shared a product. The user has a Facebook-integrated experience from review to checkout,” he says.





17 March 2011


Connecting consumers and brands

Though more than 2 million businesses have promotional Facebook pages, until recently only a handful of brands were actually making profits from them. “People often call Facebook pages the billboards in the desert,” said Christian Taylor, founder and CEO of Payvment, a company that provides e-commerce solutions to brands on Facebook.

This year, Payvment has launched more than 15,000 stores on Facebook and recently created a “Facebook mall”, which allows users to search for the more than 1.2 million specific products and various brands on the site. “We needed to level out the playing field and allow merchants that didn’t have millions of fans to be able to be discovered,” says Taylor.

Every item in Payvment’s mall has a Facebook Like button, so users are able to immediately see what their friends, and friends of friends, are liking and what is most popular, allowing for peer influence. “We didn’t want to turn into an experience – we wanted to build something that was truly soulful,” says Taylor, “so when you go to the shopping mall, right off the bat you’re able to see what your friends like.”





17 March 2011


Multi-channel growth

F-commerce growth is just one part of a total shift towards broader engagement for consumers. What was once made up of three separate channels – phone, internet/catalogue and physical store – retail channels have now evolved to include mobile phone and applications, tablets and television.

“The ability to allow consumers to purchase on their terms, whatever product, wherever it is – this is the truly the multi-channel engagement that our clients are addressing,” says Taylor. “Retailers need to be available on every channel with every product.”