eCommerce on Facebook - Should you or shouldn't you?

01.13.2010

So there you are on Facebook, telling the world what's on your mind, commenting on photos of your friend's weekend getaway, "liking" your co-worker's latest status update...and pulling out your credit card to purchase a half a pound of coffee?

Today, I came a cross an article telling me that I could be doing just that. Yes folks, Equator Estate Coffees and Teas is now making it easy for me (and you!) to purchase a cup of joe right on Facebook.

To my surprise, that's not the only thing I can buy on Facebook. I can also send my mom flowers from 1-800-Flowers' Fan Page and Limited Brands has taken a stab at blending eCommerce with marketing on Facebook as well. (I couldn't find the shopping area from Limited Brands on Facebook, but if their stores, namely Express and Victoria's Secret, are selling on Facebook, there's a very good chance I'll try this shopping opportunity out very soon!)800 Flowers Facebook EcommerceEquator Coffee Facebook Ecommerce

This got me thinking about whether bringing eCommerce to Facebook is a good idea or not. Afterall, social media marketing is supposed to be about conversations, not sales, right? Not quite. In the end, it is about sales. All of marketing is about sales. Whether it's word of mouth or TV commercials, the end-goal of all of your marketing efforts is to sell whatever your product or service is.

The great thing about social media is that it has put the human element back into sales. Instead of talking at your customers, you now talk to them and allow them to respond. You build a deeper relationship. So, if you've done all of that, and now you have a group of people who have chosen to be a part of your Facebook community, is it a smart move to provide them with the option to purchase your product directly on that platform? I say, yes.

If these people are fans of yours, they are likely interested in what you are offering. The option to purchase would just be one more feature of your fan page. As long as brands continue to deliver value on their fan page, continue to be "social", and remember not to hammer their fans over the head with an annoying "buy, buy, buy!" message, this could be quite convenient for fans. And as we've seen in the past, convenience is a huge factor when it comes to sales. Take iTunes for example; if it weren't because you have the ability to simply click "buy" right from your office without having to drive a few miles to the nearest Best Buy or Target, would you own all of the music that you do? I know I wouldn't.

eCommerce has proven to be great for retailers. According to comScore, online spending in the U.S. during last year's Q3 totaled $29.6 billion. Facebook continues to grow. It currently reports having 350 million active users. I would say that for those who do it correctly, this could be a very powerful mashup.