So did hell just freeze over? Amazon, the grand dame of e-commerce has set up shop with the new kid on the e-commerce block, Facebook, in a curious ménage-à-trois with leading consumer brand manufacturer, Procter & Gamble (photographic evidence below).
What’s actually being sold is P&G’s Max Factor brand, “the makeup of makeup artists”, on a shop tab on the brand’s UK Facebook page. Product pages and shopping cart are in Facebook, whilst the checkout takes place on Amazon.co.uk.
At first glance, this is all quite mad – Amazon surely wants to keep e-commerce to itself, and not invite the unruly social network muscle in on what has been its show for over a decade. P&G wants to irritate traditional retailers – its customers – by selling direct, like it wants a bullet in the head. And Facebook should have no interest in having a hole blasted through the wall of its walled garden to let money flow out, just when it’s investing so heavily in it’s own virtual currency, Facebook Credits, to keep money in.
And yet, it’s genius.
We think this Facebook + Amazon + Brand trinity is a really smart low-risk-high-reward solution for businesses and brands to explore f-commerce, without all those pesky problems of logistics and fulfillment. And if your products are already for sale on Amazon – then it’s a real no-brainer (and even if they’re not – with Amazon storefront and logistics offered as a turnkey service – it’s still pretty much a no-brainer). The big advantage is that you can brand the e-commerce experience, keeping people within your Facebook page all the way from conversation to commerce, and then just hand over all the heavy lifting to Amazon. It’s e-commerce without tears.
It’s a win-win for all involved. Shoppers get the convenience of shopping for their favorite brands within Facebook – linking seamlessly through from brand updates to their walls, getting to use all the social features – chat, likes etc, they know and love, whilst also getting the security of having transactions handled by the most respected name in the field.
For Amazon, it allows the e-commerce behemoth, once considered by some to be a laggard in social commerce, to spread it’s global wings over the largest platform on the Web – social or otherwise – and become the fulfillment partner for all things f-commerce. On the back of Amazon’s recent purchase of social shopping site Woot, any suspicion that Amazon may have missed the boat when it comes to social commerce can be laid to rest.
For Facebook, it allows the world’s favorite website to “stand on giant’s shoulders” (Amazon’s) and instantly become a respected social commerce platform. Combined with third party providers offering custom storefronts, and the imminent expansion of Facebook Credits facilities, f-commerce is beginning to shape up into a formidable player.
And for P&G – it’s an oh-so-smart – and safe – solution to learn about e-commerce, Direct to Consumer relationships, and most importantly about its brand users. The vast majority of P&G’s products are already sold on Amazon – so any political risk of upsetting traditional retail customers by opening a new retail channel is mitigated.
When run in tandem with ‘Facebook specials‘ – a term we think we’ll hear a whole lot more for special offers, exclusive deals etc – the Facebook + Amazon + Brand ménage-à-trois becomes a compelling proposition.
And let’s not forget digital agencies – whilst a ménage-à-quatre might be a little crowded, we think there will be a real opportunity for digital agencies to bring brands, Amazon and Facebook together and offer turn-key solutions that fuse the three together.
The social commerce world just got more interesting.