Retail fashion chain 7 For All Mankind (7FAM) has just launched not one, but two Facebook stores.

The first of the two 8thBridge-powered Facebook stores is a rather slick ‘Canvas Store’ permanently located the brand’s Facebook page, but the other store is a roaming 7FAM ‘Newsfeed Store’ that replicates itself around Facebook walls based on user-shares and activity (screenshots below).  The 7FAM Newsfeed Store allows brand fans to buy without ever having to leave what is becoming the most valuable digital real estate around right now – their personal newsfeed.

We’ve seen Newsfeed Stores before but 7FAM’s version is well thought through and has a smart accompanying promotion, offering a free tote bag, beauty products and luggage tag, to facilitate it’s spread from wall to wall – like virulent commercial virus. Pity the promotion only lasts for the initial launch of the store – but 7FAM are thinking along the right lines with this viral incentive.

Technology-wise, Newsfeed Stores in Facebook are essentially hacks of what was orginally intended to be video functionality on Facebook walls; the stores are actually e-commerce-enabled flash videos.  And like good flash video animations, the 7FAM Newsfeed store looks very slick and professional – and there are some nice touches, such as the ability to share not only the store, but individual products within it.

We’re not fans of using Flash technology in f-commerce (loading times are maddening in a realtime environment like the newsfeed, and Flash is invisible to anyone with a mobile Apple device), but right now Facebook impose Flash for Newsfeed Stores – so it’s their way or the highway.  But 7FAM’s Flash experience made us think that there might be a better use for these e-commerce enabled flash-based movie shorts.

In short, we think there may be an opportunity to drive Newsfeed Stores through the Facebook ecosystem, by embedding them in ‘viral videos’ – see the ad, buy the product.  Rather than build a mini-store, that may or may not get shared, why not add e-commerce functionality to your best creative?

If Nike had e-commerce enabled it’s Write the Future viral video, it could have shifted a store-load of Ronaldo kit. With such a creative-first approach to f-commerce, brands would realise that they need to be genuinely remarkable in order to be worth the premier newsfeed real estate they want to own.  More strategically, by combining viral ads with e-commerce, brands would bridge the artificial and dysfunctional chasm between branding and selling.

Viral Advertising + E-Commerce = Future of F-Commerce?

If we were 8thBridge – or any of the other Facebook commerce solution providers – we’d be looking to jump into bed with viral agencies and explore possibilities.  The world is moving on from Flash, but video is here to stay, so e-commerce enabled viral ads in Facebook – or indeed YouTube  – built in post-Flash HTML5 technology, could be a big hit with brands and consumers.