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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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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Challenges for the fast growth in Social Commerce

Guest article written by Kevin Warhus, eCommerce Marketing Manager, ShopTab.

In today’s ever-changing, digital market there are new hurdles and opportunities popping up all the time. Recently, a trend in social selling through channels such as Facebook and Twitter has begun to captivate the B2C and B2B markets. Never before have marketers been able to reach such targeted groups in personal ways. With a wide variety of mediums at your disposal, almost any company can find a social solution that is right for them.

With the recent growth of social selling great opportunities are created as well as new problems to overcome. What is the best way to connect with your customers in this new channel? What kind of ROI can you expect from social selling? While unfortunately there is no golden goose to provide all the answers for your brand specifically, companies like ours can help your business overcome the frequent challenges of social selling.

B2C challenges

Booz & Co predict $15 billion in social commerce revenues by 2014. That is approximately 10% of the eCommerce market, and your brand is foolish to not fight for your share. That being said, we know it can be challenging for many brands to make their initial entrance into social commerce, so take the time to plan your attack. There are countless options to reach your audience through social commerce, but one of the most innovative and exciting methods for B2C companies is though social stores on Facebook.

To get started, examine your competition to see if they already have stores active on their Facebook page or other social pages. Explore their site to see what works for them and what could be improved upon. Then, you must decide how you are going to build out your store and gain an edge on your competitors. For instance, ShopTab, our social commerce storefront, has many customization options to set your brand apart. ShopTab offers customizable colors and logos for branding, language and currency options, full text control on each page, and a large variety of personalization options to help change the look and feel of your Facebook store. One of our clients changes their page banner for each store page weekly to support their specific promotions calendar.

Once your store is up and running it is crucial to develop a marketing plan to get customers aware of your new social efforts. Selling happens with smart promotion and positioning in each unique channel – social is no different and requires its own strategy and tactics. Drive them to your social store through featured posts on your social pages, offer promo codes or specials for your social users, or make customers aware of your Facebook page when they are on your website. Remember, buying on Facebook is new to most users so take your time to educate them on this new option.

Overall having a social presence for your store can help your brand connect with customers. It can be a fun way to further build your relationship while also making sales as customers will enjoy this new shopping experience from their favorite social sites. Social stores can also help show customers you are on the cutting edge of the newest trends which can encourage trust and credibility in your brand. It is important to note that many retailers understand that many times it takes multiple impressions to create a sale – your social store is one more option to create that impression through a view of a product on your page or a friend’s like of that product on your wall. Together these elements create the unique value of a user’s social experience while buying from your brand and will be critical to creating repeat revenues in the future.

B2B challenges

Social selling for B2B companies presents similar opportunities, but often need to address different challenges. Beyond the need to create fun shopping experiences for customers, B2B social selling is primarily about educating clients with intelligent and engaging marketing, not just presenting your standard approach in a new medium..

Social selling may not be right for every business, but it is definitely a large opportunity for many B2B brands. Ask yourself who you are trying to target, and what you want them to get out of the social experience. Then, design your social selling strategy to best fit the specific needs of your target clients and their businesses.

Social selling for B2B can often include email marketing, building close client relationships through social media, and offering convenient and innovative alternatives to traditional business methods. Whatever the solution may be, it is important to utilize these tools to not only acquire new customers, but also to strengthen the relationship with your existing customers. Don’t forget to bring them along for the ride!

Overall

For either type of business is it crucial to monitor your efforts and keep a close eye on your store’s behavior through purchases and activity levels. We highly recommend that client’s leverage products like Google’s free analytics tools to track your conversion of sales on your website and to monitor traffic generated from your social sites and shops. The features within a product like Google Analytics can help pinpoint your social ROI and help determine what is working and what is not.

Another necessary component to social selling is monitoring and responding to your customers who reach out to your brand through social media. This element of your marketing mix is mandatory if you desire to build strong relationships with your clients. Make it a habit to check your social pages at least daily and keep up the conversation with customers. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to get a better idea of what they want from your brand and your marketing efforts.

Last but not least, it is vital to constantly change up your store and marketing efforts. Keep up with the changing demands of your clients and continue to surprise and stimulate them with fresh, innovative ideas! We have one client that takes a very different tone in describing their products on Facebook because they believe the audience reacts to their products differently in that environment.  Your creativity and passion will be rewarded!

Whatever your strategy may be, integrating social selling into your marketing plans is an excellent way to connect with customers and increase sales through personalized interactions. Analyze your customers and determine what they want to see from your brand now and in the future. With the proper mix, your business will soon see amazing results and can capture its share of the social selling revolution. Good selling!

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ShopTab

ShopTab  – Facebook Store

The answers were provided by Kevin Gralen, President of Shop Tab.

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

    Supports 3 methods of product uploads into the Facebook store.
    - Manual uploading of products
    - CSV file format via daily/weekly updates
    - XML file format via daily/weekly updates

  2. Can this be an automated upload?

    All data feeds can be automated via designated times either daily or a specific day of the week

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

    Allows merchants to offer specials that they desire as long as their website commerce engine will support the transaction.

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

    No

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

    Yes

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

    Provides a basic search function as well as price and category search functionality

  7. What is your pricing model?

    Subscription with a 7 day free trial to start. Subscriptions start at $10.

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

    Able to work with any cart system without requiring specific integrations to support the providers.

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

    Currently supports share.  Like is available in a limited market currently and will be generally available by the end of the summer 2011.

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

    Only best practice documentation

 

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