Wondering which vendors and applications to work with to set up a Facebook F-commerce or Social Commerce Store? There’s a range from 8thBridge, SortPrice, Ecwid,BigCommerce, Usablenet, Storefront Social.com, www.x.com, MagentoCommerce, NorthSocial, ebay, Payvment and PayPal’s Adaptive Payments API, Zong, TheFind and ALUC-it.
This post looks at these types of vendors and their applications (apps) and how you can use them for Social commerce and Facebook Commerce.
How to Display a F-commerce Store on Facebook
To display a f-commerce page in Facebook, there are two options. A brand can use iFrames or a Facebook app.
With iFrames, a brand can create, host and display its own content in Facebook page in the middle column. The advantage to iFrames? The creation and maintenance of the content and site can be done in-house by the business itself. And it tends to offer the most seamless customer experience for consumers. As many of us have experience as customers ourselves, the ease of use and simplicity in the shopping experience is critical to engaging and retaining customers to follow through and not abandon their shopping cart.
The other choice is to use Facebook apps. One of biggest advantage of using an app is the increased amount of space a brand has to show their content and merchandise. An app gives you 760 pixels but iFrames only allows 520 pixels. However, Facebook apps are complicated and do require a development team such as:
8thBridge allows brand to provide social shopping experiences that are portable, personalized and participatory. The experience across a merchant’s social shopping channel is consistent with the merchant’s existing website because 8thBridge leverages the merchant’s existing shopping cart, payment processing, and order fulfillment systems. This means there is little IT support required from a brand’s tech team. 8thBridge monetizes social media for some of the largest merchants in the world including 1-800-Flowers.com, Lands’ End, Delta Air Lines, Hallmark, HauteLook, and a division of Avon called mark
With SortPrice’s free Merchant Store application for Facebook, merchants both big and small are running Facebook storefronts. The stores are powered by SortPrice technology combined with the product datafeeds. This allows the product information to be easily updated, so new products and price changes are synchronized. Each Facebook store application has an integrated Wishlist which allows Facebook users to save products and share them with friends. Over 1,500 small, medium and large brands have stores. Among them are OfficeDepot, PetSmart, Loews and Adobe.
Ecwid focus since 2001 has been commercial open source PHP shopping cart software. One good thing for small to midsized brands is that it’s also free. The software can be easily integrated to any existing site in minutes and the store can be mirrored on many sites at the same time and managed from one place. Because the store integrates with social networks, brands can run their own store on Facebook. No PHP knowledge is required, and there are no code changes or hosting expenses. Brand include Embe, K&K Photography Gallery, Hello Magpie, RedZero Printing, US21, Cafe Grumpy and Mammamiu!
With Usablenet’s integrated Facebook application, brands can offer any product, service, feature, and functionality currently available on your website within Facebook. Customers can purchase a product, book a reservation, pay a bill, review products and share them with their friends, or provide feedback – without leaving Facebook. Customers include ASOS and JCPenny.
BigCommerce provides e-commerce software to online retailers and merchants. Brand that want to do business on Facebook can use the BigCommerce free application, SocialShop 2. The retail platform shows up as the “Shop Now” tab on the Facebook page. It allows customers to share products with their Facebook friends and buy products within Facebook. Examples are Southern Jewlz and BabyAndMeGifts.com and Etitude’s.
This software enables retailers to connect their e-commerce store to Facebook. The brand can upload the storefront banner, choose from a wide variety of templates, feature/highlight products for special promotions, etc… After building the storefront, the connection wizard allows the brand to easily install the storefront to Facebook. Example brands that use this software are Livescribe and Zumba Fitness.
NorthSocial This is what I used to create my Facebook Store. It is great for adding a product showcase to your Facebook Page. The Show & Sell app allows you to display up to 10 featured items with unique “Buy Now” links and social commenting plug-ins. Viral functionality of the app ensures your products are spread wide, increasing sales, and social engagement with your brand. With their “buy now” button you can add links to your eCommerce site so your Facebook fans are one click away from your online store.
If you sell on ebay, you’ll want to watch to pay close attention to this group of vendors. X.commerce is a group of trusted, global leaders in the commerce space—eBay, PayPal, Magento, GSI Commerce, and other best-of-breed partners that have come together to deliver the first end-to-end, multi-channel commerce technology platform with all the pieces, including e-commerce, marketing automation, mobile transactions and payments… In Robert Scoble’s video interview of the CEO of ebay, John Donahoe, explained that ebay is creating this app ecosystem so as well as be able to ask their Facebook friends if they should buy it.
For merchants X.commerce is a single platform that makes the most current commerce technologies easy to access and deploy. For developers X.commerce is a robust, open ecosystem that empowers integrators and innovators with the most complete set of commerce-related tools and capabilities in the world. Developer’s now have access to eBay Inc.’s resources through one entry point giving them access to hundreds of millions of consumers and merchants who are hungry for better end-to-end commerce experiences. There is a conference on X.commerce to learn more.
Magento is particularly attractive to small to medium-sized businesses. Magento is an open source, ecommerce ecosystem. With Magento and x.commerce within a hour you can take a small physical retail store and build a online store website and a shopping cart, they can start selling. The great thing here is if you are a developer, there is the opportunity to make money if you can come up with the next social commerce killer app.
ebay merchants made $60B last year and only 45 percent was in the US. This means shopping has gone global. Twenty percent of the commerce is cross boarder. For ebay power sellers, eBay is betting that more and more people will be pulling their shopping experience into a social media context. They are building apps to empower ebay merchants. For instance if friends, who are shopping on ebay, can ask their social graph, “Should I buy this jacket or that jacket?” So ebay is connecting to a customer’s Facebook social graph via direction from Facebook executives like Katie Burke Mitic so with a post, customers can get their friend’s opinion and decide and buy.
And ebay is developing a visual search social mobile application. It can take a picture of a jacket you see in the store or that a friend is wearing and then search and find similar things for sale on ebay and then buy it. The ebay apps will put ebay merchants store content on iphones and ipads. They are partnering with geo-location companies, so that if ebay merchant had a store and a person saw something they liked on line, they could find the store location. ebay also powers Facebook’s virtual currency system where customer’s can use Facbook credits to buy things on Facebook.
Payvment and PayPal’s Adaptive Payments API
Payvment may be a great choice for small to midsized businesses because it’s also free. Payvment originally was a web service that allowed a site owner to integrate a shopping cart into their e-commerce by adding one line of code to the site. The software allows retailers to create Facebook storefronts. Customers can use credit cards and PayPal. The new paid versions of the software include advanced analytics on Likes, comments and Tweets on a product-by-product basis. Example Facebook shops are CHiASSO, Amoeba Music, Molly Sims, Hooked on Phonics, AdultSwim UK, Gibson and Lakers Nation.
Mobile payment platforms is another category to consider. Choices for brands range from using Zong, Square, to Boku, to Mopay. Google Inc. and Intuit Inc are working on mobile payment platforms. The ability to pay on your mobile phone along with being able to access a Facebook store and/ or ask your Facebook social graph about products will provide an all-in-one social mobile Facebook commerce.
The adoption of smartphones, 3G/4G networks as well as the increase unlimited data plans has accelerated mobile media use. Brands are realizing that another venue to reach customers is through mobile browsers, apps and SMS. As technology advances, advertising will most likely play a major role in the development of the mobile ecosystem that Facebook users count on. In fact, according to comScore’s U.S. study on mobile advertising, they found that the number of advertisers using mobile display ad campaigns has more than doubled in the past two years.
In another study from comScore revealed that 6.7 million U.S. mobile subscribers used location-based “check-in” services on their phones in March 2011, representing 7.1 percent of the entire mobile population. Location-based apps allow brands to interact with customers by providing special deals and incentives in real-time on their mobile device.
The next trend will be brands that allow full f-commerce via smart phones. One often overlooked aspect is how often a product is forwarded to a friend or posted to Facebook, These actions are quite common within mobile applications, with 4-9 percent of users doing it regularly. Brands need to start thinking about how to reach their mobile audiences while they are shopping. Through Facebook Mobile texts consumers are able to receive notifications, and send and receive SMS.
An example of mobile payment is Zong. eBay just acquired Zong for $240 million. Zong’s customers are social gaming and virtual world companies, including Zynga Inc., IMVU Inc., Walt Disney Co.’s Playdom and Zwinky. Zong’s strong suit is its relationship with 250 mobile carriers around the world. These relationships enable users to charge ecommerce purchases to their mobile bill via Zong. Those partnerships give Zong access to 3.2 billion mobile users.
Who has surpassed Yahoo and the second most popular shopping site? TheFind, according to comScore. TheFind’s mission is to help every shopper find exactly what they want to buy, and to help every merchant, large and small, to reach those shoppers. TheFind is a vertical search engine for shopping that puts every product, every store, every sale, coupon and discount, right at the customer’s fingertips. It provides an in-depth Facebook integration called “Shop Like Friends.” What that does is allows customers to sign into the site with Facebook Connect. It then taps into the preferences of their Facebook Friends and pages that their friends have “liked” on Facebook. It then it maps this to stores and brands.
In addition to the platform to build a Facebook store on, brands need to start to look at the mobile platform that they want to build their shopping and interaction apps on. A smart thing to do is to consider one that is a customizable mobile application that can also connect to their CRM or Customer Service software. ALUC-it is one of the many choices. Brands that build on this platform can connect that mobile commerce platform to Genesys Customer Service /CRM Software.
One of the issues of social mobile shopping is the fear that if people are doing comparison shopping, say with an app like TheFind while in a store, they might leave. The compelling value proposition for ALUC-it: You keep customers IN THE STORE.
With this app they scan the product’s QR code, or image and the apps does some comparison shopping and offers a coupon or a special deal to prevent the customer from buying the product elsewhere. With respect to Facebook, the consumer can instantly find who in their network has bought that product and LIKE’s it, or thinks it sucks. They can also share questions with their friends, “So these shoes make my butt look big?”
The advantages of this mobile platform is to flexibly enable smartphone users to:
• Easily find information about a product and associated offers
• Personalize the purchasing experience
• Fast-track customer service interactions after purchase
• Provide a single point of integration for all product-related conversations.
With respect to retailers and manufacturers, it’s a mobile platform to flexibly enable to:
• Provide up-to-the minute personalized information about products and associated offers to customers who use their smartphones as connectivity devices
• Track customer purchasing habits and experience
• Increase efficiency in customer service interactions related to particular product
(My friend Charlie Isaacs (twitter.com/charlieisaacs) developed this app! He is truly a social media rocket scientist… one of the few in the #SCRM community who is actually writing code!!)
Learn. Share. Grow!
For more info on Social And Facebook Commerce, check out my Kindle book at: Like My Stuff – How to Monetize Your Facebook Fans With Social Commerce & A Facebook Store