February 13, 2013

Facebook ecommerce stores: A stepping stone for small retailers?

Written By Martin Sandhu

Selling on Facebook has been going on, quite quietly, for a while now. Businesses are able to add a shopping cart app to their page, which allows customers to make a purchase without ever needing to leave Facebook.

It’s been a popular choice for many global brands, including Gap and Gamestop, but these and many others have recently closed their Facebook stores, after experiencing poor results.

It seems that smaller businesses are having much more success, though. Research has found that those getting the most from f-commerce have less than $100k annual revenue and employ a maximum of ten people. It’s proving popular for businesses without a website, supplementing physical sales, as well as those who already have ecommerce sites or eBay stores. According to a survey conducted by solution provider Payvment in March 2012, Facebook is the sole sales channel for 37% of sellers.

Why is it then that so many bigger brands are failing? Many of them simply sold products already available to purchase elsewhere, there was very little need to use the Facebook store. One larger company (though still small in comparison) who are experiencing success is the make-up brand Rimmel London. The products offered on their store are exclusives, sneak previews of products yet to hit the shelves or heavily discounted. Looking at their store there is only about 20 products available, however by giving their loyal Facebook fans the opportunity to purchase these products exclusively it works. Not only that, but it’s a great incentive for increasing page likes.

It’s important to ensure you already have an established Facebook page, with active fans before investing in a social checkout application. Whilst there are free options, those with solid customer support and features do come at a price.

As the advantage of having a digital presence looks set to eclipse having a physical shop on the high street, there has never been a better opportunity or greater urge for small businesses to branch out online, and Facebook commerce just might be the stepping stone to get them there.