Background: F-commerce is increasingly generating buzz in the social media and social technology market. Growing upon the people's social graph, Facebook is suddenly emerging not only as a place to connect and share interesting stuff with people but also as a tool for commerce for brands and customers. The world's biggest brands are selling on Facebook today. In fact, the top 3 brands on Facebook - Coca Cola, Starbucks and Disney - sell directly on Facebook. E-commerce leaders are predicting that within the next 5 years more sales will be happening on Facebook than on Amazon.
Hence we thought it would be a good idea to research some interesting F-commerce strategies and see what different things are being done by brands in F-Commerce (Hat tip to social commerce today for their excellent research on Facebook commerce, which was very valuable for writing this article).
Here are the top 7 F-commerce strategies brand owners should know:
- Facebook Stores
Facebook stores (also known as F-Stores) are the typical stores on Facebook. The idea behind having such stores is to bring the store where the consumer is (i.e. on Facebook). Consumers can decide upon the product, make selections and transactions without leaving Facebook. Moreover, such stores get the viral advantages of Facebook 'likes' and 'Facebook shares'.
- Group buying
Facebook might have jumped into the 'group buying' waters with Facebook deals, but some brands are already using group buying to pump up sales in their stores. Certain brands like W Hotels activate heavily discounted deals when a set number of people bid on it. Skoda, ran the 'More you like... less you pay campaign' on their Facebook store, which was an online auction where each 'like' reduced the cost of the car by 1 Euro until somebody bought it. Similarly Sears is using the same mechanism on its Facebook store where deals go live when they have received enough likes. This ensures each product on the store generates buzz from its fans
- Exclusive offers
Since your fans and your Facebook store both are on your Facebook page, there are high chances that it will be your fans who will be shopping from your Facebook page. So why not use your store to reward them with exclusive offers to generate buzz along with sales.
Many brands are using this strategy to give exclusive offers on their Facebook stores. Pantene did this some time back when they were giving early access to their new products on their F-stores. Ketchup brand Heinz and Women shoes and Handbag brand Nine West are also using F-stores to give limited edition products to their fans
- Facebook connect for network recommendations
Some of the biggest e-commerce and retail brands seem to be using this for moving their customers ahead into the sales funnel. Such Facebook commerce applications leverage Facebook's open graph to show valuable recommendations to potential customers and buyers.
For instance, Amazon's 'Your Amazon Facebook Page' application recommends movies, music and other products based on the recommendations of your friends on Facebook. Tripadvisor's travel map application shows you a map of all your friends and the places they have been across the globe, which is a simple but smart way of gaining travel recommendations. Similarly, Levis Friends Store displays jeans liked by other people and your friends.
- Shop and tell
You will find this as the emerging trend among onsite Facebook stores. With Shop and tell plugins brands can integrate referral features to their shopping carts so that whenever someone makes a purchase on the store, they can recommend the product to people in their network. In return they can avail rewards such as discounts, free shipping etc. Many companies like Flaunt it, Tip from me and Finz.it provide such type of plugins.
Another interesting shop and tell tool is Swipely which integrates with your card information to notify people in your network about your purchases. It also shows what is happening at the places you shop as a shopping feed.
Certain brands tweaked this model to generate recommendations and word of mouth. They are selling consumers content (books, papers, research reports, music) and products (beers, gifts) in exchange of a Tweet or a Facebook wall update about your brand. See pay with a tweet for more information.
- Facebook check in deals
Certain brands are making smart use of Facebook check-in deals for boosting their sales. Facebook check-in deals allow users to find deals in their vicinity using their mobile phones and find offers. Such kinds of campaigns helps brands since user check-ins, when they come up in activity feeds, act as a marketing channel for the brands. We see a great potential in Facebook check in deals for F-commerce since a lot of interesting stuff can be experimented in this space.
Brands like Gap used Facebook check ins to give free jeans to the first 10, 000 check ins and discounts to the rest of the customers who checked in. Mazda too used Facebook book check ins to give 20% off on Mazda Roadster customers who checked in.
- In store F-commerce
While some brands are trying to bring their stores to Facebook through Facebook stores, some others are doing the opposite, that is, bringing Facebook to their on-ground retail stores. If your brand has offline retail stores targeting a lot of youth, then this strategy would definitely win you a lot of buzz and recommendation.
Coca Cola village is an interesting example of in store F-commerce, where there was a real life 'like' button that sent 'likes' to the users Facebook account by scanning their wristbands. DieselCam - an initiative by Diesel -had devices installed in trial rooms where people could take and post their pics with Diesel Gear on their Facebook account.
I hope this research will help brand owners and social media marketers understand the wide scope of social commerce on Facebook. If you know of any more F-commerce strategies, please add to this list. I am summarizing my research below in the presentation: