A couple of interesting UK articles out on f-commerce – one by Dawinderpal Sahota of Computing Magazine arguing that Facebook has a limited future in e-commerce, and the other by Jake Hird of Econsultancy who argues, on the contrary the opportunities for e-commerce on Facebook are limitless. Here’s a summary of the points made.  What do you think?

Against f-commerce:

  • 63% vs 6% –  63 per cent of consumers visit a retailer or brand web site to make a purchase compared to just 6% who purchase goods through social media (according to a recent UK survey by ShopperCentric – see results below).
  • Facebook is well adapted to marketing, but not selling – it’s a solution for promoting marketing messages and communicating brand personality, not processing transactions – “transactions will continue to be best processed through company web sites”.
  • Enabling e-commerce on Facebook, when you already have an e-commerce solution on the open web creates redundancy – and is therefore pointless.
  • The true future potential of Facebook is to act as a one-to-one ‘live’ communication platform that allows consumers to comment, ask questions and leave feedback – and get personal individual replies from the brand
  • (The Shoppercentric survey (n-1000 – UK adults) also showed that the majority (54 per cent) of respondents said they think the reason that brands and retailers were present on social media was simply to sell more products, while 43 per cent also thought that they were there “because everyone else is”).

ShopperCentric Survey

For f-commerce

  • Just because few consumers are purchasing on Facebook today, does not mean they won’t in the future.  The same argument was made about e-commerce a decade ago.  People don’t buy online, therefore they won’t.  QED.  Nope.
  • It’s myopic to take current consumer attitudes and opinions as indicative of future adoption – think Henry Ford – ‘If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have said “a faster horse”‘.
  • As industry leaders adopt f-commerce in local markets, such as ASOS and French Connection in the UK, others will follow. Facebook is simply “a platform extension to e-commerce”, limited only by internal policies and politics.
  • Changes in Facebook software (from FBML to the use of iFrames) will make it easier for retailers and brands to open up store in Facebook. iFrame technology has three distinct advantages of FBML – allows for better design, better tracking and better e-commerce functionality.
  • Improved facility for secure transactions (PayPal or VBV) are likely to make f-commerce more popular with consumers and vendors.
  • In a consumer-centric model, it makes no sense to limit transactions to one digital destination – we should be helping customers buy where they want, when they want
  • Facebook Deals approximates to Groupon’s proven and highly successful model.  If it worked for Groupon, why not Facebook? In the UK Argos, Debenhams, Starbucks and O2 are betting on it.
  • Usability, security and privacy are issues with f-commerce currently, but the platform is innovating fast.
  • The enthusiasm with which diverse brands and retailers are adopting f-commerce, points to a bright future for f-commerce.