Changes to Facebook Pages Sees Another Setback to Retail Brands Selling on Facebook

After implementing timeline for fan pages Facebook has yet again changed the playing field in the way that brands interact with customers through their branded Facebook fan pages.

The ability to set a default landing tab will affect retailers who are using fan page apps such as Payvment and ShopTab in order to sell directly from their pages.

Small to medium sized retailers, who have already had little luck selling in Facebook with little, if any, marketing budgets will be hit the hardest by this move.  As reported a little while ago by CommerceOnFacebook, it will be the enterprise solutions of retail applications who will benefit the most from this change.

Companies such as 8th Bridge, ShopIgniter and Sortal who offer both customized solutions and the correct tools for successful marketing will now pull away from the crowd.  ‘Off the shelf’ solutions which rely on the merchant to find their own marketing success, will see a continued decline in signups and subscription cancellations.  Smaller storefront providers will probably begin to shut their own doors or change their Facebook applications completely.

Due to the most recent changes, not only the ability to set the default landing tab has changed.  The size of the canvas has increased which means that subscription based storefront providers will need to move fast to keep up with the development changes.

Fan pages will have the same timeline format as personal pages.  The picture at the top of the screen displayed on the default landing tab will not have the ability to link anywhere, display pricing information or have any clickable call to action.  Developers of fan page storefront applications must now offer retail customers solutions which entice shoppers to enter the storefront.  This is yet another click away from the reach of customers, who have already displayed a lack of interest in shopping on Facebook.

Below is the new layout of the Walmart Facebook fan page after the switch to the new timeline.

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2012 The Year Social Commerce Will Blow Up

Christian Taylor, CEO and founder of Facebook storefront provider Payvment, recently shared his thoughts for the growth of social commerce in 2012.  Mr Taylor pointed out three ways that ‘taste graphs’ will fuel social commerce.  A taste graph, similar to Facebook’s ‘open graph’ is the specific and personal tastes of a user who is connected to you in a social capacity, whether as a ‘friend’, ‘fan’ or just someone who has subscribed to your Facebook updates or vice versa.

I would like to take this opportunity to expand on these ideas and add my own view to how this may or may not assist with the growth of social commerce.

Social shopping is a formula based on social science.  The study of human behavior and interaction with the direct influence of trend setting, social influencers.  If you’re really looking to see correlation between influencers and purchasing, take someone who averages 20 individual comments per status update.  This person is an influencer within their network of friends.  Now, find five people within this users’ network who share a passion or interest with this user.  Imagine that the shared interest is the clothing line of Ralph Lauren.  Offer the influencer a huge discount on Ralph Lauren merchandise in return for direct access to broadcast to his five friends about his recent Ralph Lauren purchase.  Would any of these five friends make a purchase within Facebook based on these simulated conditions?  Maybe, maybe not, but the thought of purchasing has, without a doubt, been firmly planted within their sub-conscious psyche.

Targeting Deals and Offers based on Interests

Mr Taylor wrote that ‘by mixing my social data with its own data about my general interests, a company’s taste graph can produce deals hyper-targeted to my interests’.  This statement is true but not yet totally possible within the current Facebook environment.  After all, what is considered a user’s interests within Facebook?  Something that the user has ‘liked’ or has added to their list of ‘interests’ within their profile?  Regarding the profile interests, these could be completely incorrect.  A person completes these details once when first opening a Facebook account and rarely updates this information.  As for ‘like’ to represent interests, this is nearer to capturing real information but would also need to be adjusted based on the reason for the ‘like’.  The full study should include the ‘why’ when the user originally ‘liked’ what is seen to be an interest.  This gives a deeper insight into the user’s intention.  For example, the user may have shown an interest based on discount, influence, content or any other reason.  The importance lies in the ‘why’ as opposed to ‘what’.  This is the formula that needs to be followed in order to really capture the attention of new fans.

Shared Passions and Recommendations

Without a doubt a shared passion such as music is a big influencer.  If I share the same taste in music with a friend who I can see just bought a new CD of our favorite artist, I would be tempted to take a look and even to buy the same disc.  But can this be applied to every vertical?  Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a fashion identification application which could distinguish your clothes from your photos and match similar fashions to your friends?  The app would recognize the clothes worn by you in your photographs by style, color, date and season and match them to similar clothes worn by tagged friends.  The app would then know to inform users within the same ‘fashion circle’ whenever a purchase is made by someone within the group.

‘Fashion Circle Plus’ – what a great name for a new Facebook application.  It could also offer the ability to ‘tag’ your clothes within photographs that you upload to Facebook.  Brands can upload latest fashions and styles into the application and users just choose from the pre-defined tags created by the brands or just add the style tags themselves.

Social Commerce Tastemakers

By nature, people follow in the footsteps of well-known personalities and celebrities.  Back in October we wrote that celebrity endorsement is the future of social shopping within Facebook, but now that people can subscribe to personal newsfeeds within Facebook, it brings the whole idea one step closer to reality.  From experience I have seen cases where celebrities feel that they ‘cheapen’ their name when endorsing products for sale on Facebook.  This is yet another mindset challenge for 2012.

The people who should be leading the way with this project are celebrity agents.  After all, product endorsements with revenue from sales are solid revenue models for celebrities.

Summary

In short, I personally believe that 2012 will be the year that Mark Zuckerberg’s statement “If I had to guess, social commerce is next to blow up,” will come to fruition, but it won’t happen without a little more help from Mark and his team at Facebook.

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Payvment Offers One Day Deals to ALL Storefront Customers

In a bid to repeat the success of Black Friday, Payvment is offering ALL of their social storefront customers the opportunity to create and offer one day deals which will then showcase on Payvment’s Shopping Mall within Facebook.

Payvment are recommending that sellers offer at least 50% discount on deal items to increase the chances of a sales and create buzz among social shoppers.

The one day discount bonanza will take place on Wednesday December 14th.  This is a FREE promotion to run and is open to Payvment customers at all levels.

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Shopper Traffic Rises by 30 Percent in Facebook

According to a press release from Social Commerce provider Payvment, shopper traffic on Facebook has risen by 30% since the beginning of November. The release also states that social discussion and sharing has also risen 25% within the Payvment Shopping Mall where there are allegedly more than 2.4 million products currently available from an alleged 100,000 sellers. With these figures, the average retailer product catalog displayed by Payvment customers is just 24 items.

The release continued with a statement from Christian Taylor, Payvment’s CEO and co-founder “Consumers are starting to think of Facebook as a holiday shopping destination, and we hope to encourage that behavior by making it incredibly easy to find unique gifts and great deals from a large number of sellers,” he added, “In the past, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have been the domain of the ‘big box’ retailers, but now with the Shopping Mall we’re helping the boutique sellers by aggregating and promoting their deals for consumers all in one place on Facebook.”

Below is a screenshot from the Black Friday deal finder in Payvment’s virtual shopping mall on Facebook. At the time of this article being published it was yet to be active.

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Future Predictions for Facebook Commerce

More businesses are realizing the importance of social interaction and engagement on Facebook. Some are even using social storefront providers such as Payvment and ShopTab to display and sell their products. However, one thing that small to medium sized businesses (SMB’s) are not realizing, is the importance of resource allocation and marketing budget in order to effectively execute their social strategy, if they actually have a strategy.

The social storefront providers do not seem to be doing enough to make SMB’s understand the importance of their overall strategy once they launch. Instead it is becoming a numbers game in the competition for brand share. Over time however, this will only be detrimental to the f-commerce landscape. Stores will open on Facebook in the belief that placing their products will generate sales. Without the right strategy, engagement and interaction, they will find disappointment and be discouraged to continue paying monthly fees to display their products. The customers of free social storefront providers will simply abandon the day to day maintenance of their stores.

In order to combat this, there needs to be more emphasis on helping retailers truly understand the task at hand. Enterprise solution providers such as ShopIgniter and 8th Bridge will continue to grow. When a large brand decides to invest a substantial amount of capital on an enterprise solution, there is a fair assumption that they will also invest the time, effort and money to develop a complete strategy. This is where smaller businesses will initially fail due to lack of resource, money and understanding of social commerce.

Currently there are few SMB storefront providers, offering their customers the analytics to understand the effectiveness of social media. How many SMB storefront providers can boast that retailers have the data at their fingertips to see which products were shared, how many times and by whom? Additionally, how many new fans of their brand became fans by shared recommendation? From their fan base, how many people are likely to share, recommend or ask advice about their products?

As social commerce evolves I believe that SMB storefront providers will either, develop analytics to incorporate crucial data or partner with companies such as Hoot Suite in order integrate pre-developed analytic systems into their offerings. I also believe there will be a rise in Social Commerce consulting agencies to bridge the gap between social storefront providers and small to medium sized businesses that are not knowledgeable within this ‘new’ arena.

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20 Facebook Storefront Providers – Compared by Daily and Monthly Application Usage

In the table below we took 20 Facebook store providers and, using statistics powered by AppData, we compared each provider by application usage. The results show daily active usage and monthly active usage.

The providers we have included are:

  • ShopTab
  • VendorShop
  • Boosket
  • BigCommerce SocialShop
  • Payvment e-Commerce Dashboard
  • Storefront Social
  • Voiyk Connect Store
  • Click4Webstore cz
  • Shopializable
  • ShopBuddy
  • Click4Webstore sk
  • OWJO
  • Highwire Storefronts
  • Volusion – Social Store Builder
  • ShopShare
  • Wishpond
  • Vendio Store
  • Social Shop by InstanteStore
  • Click4Webstore en
  • Infused Commerce

There may also be companies who are not included as their data may not have been available or their app was not represented by their actual name. In these cases we encourage storefront providers to contact us with their data for the next comparison chart.

It is also important to bear in mind that enterprise store providers, such as ShopIgniter and 8th Bridge are not included in this list as they are not playing the same ‘numbers game’ as the small to medium size providers of Facebook storefronts.

We also decided to use data that showed the Payvment e-Commerce dashboard and not the Shopping Mall by Payvment, as the e-Commerce dashboard shows a better representation of client base and not shopper base.

One other thing to bear in mind when looking at these statistics is that overall application usage for some of these vendors includes clients and shoppers in the cases where shoppers must ‘allow’ the application before even beginning their shopping experience.

We are looking for feedback on this data and encourage your comments and thoughts.

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Shop.Org Annual Summit – Digital Retail’s Most Influential Event of the Year

With just days to go until the doors open of the 2011 Shop.Org Annual Summit the buzz and excitement is building.  This event is earmarked to be the biggest and most influential Annual Summit to date.  Online shopping is continuing to grow amidst a decline in land based purchasing.  Find out from expert panelists why this is happening and who the major online players are.

Looking at the exhibitor list, the future of social shopping and commerce on Facebook also appears to be a major force at this year’s summit.  Gigya, 8th Bridge, Payvment, Fluid and Venda are just some of the social storefront providers attending the summit to show retailers how their social presence can compliment their existing online retail offering and increase revenues.

The timing is perfect.  Many retailers have already started to prepare for the countdown to the holiday season.  Predictions of online sales this year according to comScore are set to boom.  With a reported $5 billion boost in Internet spending and an overall online shopper increase of 16%.  If performance for the year to date is anything to go by, online retailers are set for a bumper holiday season.  Results from the U.S. Department of Commerce research study titled Quarterly Retail e-Commerce Sales: second quarter 2011 highlighted a 17.6% increase in online purchases versus second quarter in 2010. Results indicated that e-Commerce accumulated $47.5 billion of the retail industry’s total sales, the highest performing second quarter to date.

Among the keynote speakers at the summit are CEO of Rue La La, Ben Fischman and Forrester Research VP and Principal Analyst Sucharita Mulpuru.

The event is taking place at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Boston, Massachusetts from Monday September 12th to Wednesday, September 14th.  For more information click here to visit the official site

 

 

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Payvment

Payvment – Facebook Store

The answers were provided by a support representative at Payvment.

  1. What is the format that merchants can upload their product catalogs to their Facebook store?

    Merchants can upload products to their store manually, using the CSV importer, or using our API.

  2. Can this be an automated upload?

    If you use the API, the upload will be automated. If you manually upload products or use our CSV importer the upload will not be automated.

  3. Do you give merchants the ability to run group offers from their Facebook store?

    Merchants have the ability to enable a storewide discount only for Fans who “Like” their page.

  4. Can stores be setup to enable shoppers to checkout within Facebook?

    All transactions occur within Facebook.

  5. Can stores be setup to enable shoppers to checkout and redirect to the merchants’ webstore?

    Currently, this is not available. All transactions occur within Facebook.

  6. Is it possible to search the entire product catalog within Facebook?

    Yes, when searching in the search bar, results are first returned from the merchant’s store if no results match then results will appear from across Facebook. When you launch a store, you join Payvment’s huge network of 60,000+ stores and get into our Facebook-wide shopping cart system.

  7. What is your pricing model?

    Payvment is completely free, we will not charge you any fees or take a cut of your sales to use our Facebook solution. Our goal is to develop the best social network shopping technology and with your feedback we can continue to improve. Launch a Facebook store now and it will remain free even after our public beta ends.

  8. Do you enable 3rd party integrations?  For example Magento / e-Bay etc?

    Currently, this is not available.

  9. What is the level of social interaction on the product catalog? For example share/like/rate/comment etc.

    For example share/like/rate/comment etc. We offer in depth social integration. Users can share, email, tweet, like, and comment on products. Merchants can implement their Twitter feed and Facebook wall to their store. Customers have the ability to rate the buyers after a purchase is made.

  10. Do you offer any tools for merchants to promote their Facebook storefronts?

    Merchants can choose to have their products listed in the Shopping Mall on Facebook.

 

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