Businesses are investing significant financial and personnel resources into building their Facebook identities. And while Facebook is undoubtedly an important marketing channel, many businesses are now grappling with how they turn it into an effective sales channel too.
One solution is to enable businesses to sell products directly from their Facebook page. According to Compete.com, 68% of people become fans of retailer pages to keep up to date on sales and promotions so it’s a logical step to allow them to purchase products on the page too.
VendorShop, a Dublin based start-up, of which I am the CEO and Co-founder, enables businesses to add a free shop to their Facebook page and start selling products within minutes. There are already 10,000 VendorShop stores, and this number is increasing by the day as more and more businesses realise they can drive a direct sales from their social networking activity. In fact, recent research from the US indicates that 86% of US online retailers already have Facebook pages and this is expected to reach 99% over the coming months.
Facebook fans spend US $72 more than non-Facebook fans according to Mashable.com. And for some stores, Facebook sales count for as much as 20% of overall sales with cart values 7-10% higher than in-store purchases. That makes for a very compelling argument when it comes to considering a Facebook social commerce strategy. But while these figures are impressive, they don’t come about easily. Shops that work best are those that aren’t afraid to sell. That’s not to say that a hard-sell is called for, but shopping on Facebook is still new and most people don’t realise they can buy directly from their favourite business pages. So it is important not only to make commerce a social part of the interaction with your business, but to use the wall as your shop window and actively promote your products and the shop tab itself.
VendorShop has been ‘live’ for a little over 9 months now, and over the course of that time we have seen an impressive uptake among the Facebook business community. And while some may expect that it is businesses with large fan bases that are having all the success, in fact, small businesses of all types and sizes are doing really well too. One such store is Silver Kandi, a jewellery business based in Australia. They have a fan base in the hundreds but regularly receive several orders a day through their VendorShop Facebook store. This is because a person doesn’t have to be a fan or to download the VendorShop application to shop in a VendorShop powered Facebook store.
Social commerce is set to be a key revenue driver for businesses selling online over the coming year. According to Mike Murphy, Vice President of Global Sales for Facebook, “There’s a lot of page-building happening with the functionality to allow shopping inside Facebook.”
And Christine Baldwell of leading UK technology analysis firm, Ovum said in a recent interview, “It definitely shouldn’t be regarded as a fad … social commerce offers good sales potential for 2011 and will be the big story in retail technology.”
We believe Christmas 2010 could be something of a watershed in social commerce. What do you think?