Many retailers are pondering whether Facebook commerce (F-commerce) will experience an inevitable demise. Several larger retailers, including Game Stop, J. C. Penney and Nordstrom, already have closed their Facebook storefronts due to poor adoption and conversions.
At the same time, small- and medium-sized retailers are experiencing an increase in F-commerce sales, according to recent research from Ecwid, creator of a store-building application for Facebook.
Customer growth statistics from Ecwid reveal that sales generated by Facebook storefronts continue to grow, with total average revenues for all Facebook stores during Q2 2012 increasing 38% from Q1 2012. Within the same timeframe, the average number of stores on Facebook increased by 26%.
“It’s only a matter of time before more business starts getting done on Facebook, as many industry analysts have noted,” Jim O’Hara, President of Ecwid, told Retail TouchPoints. “We believe SMBs are leading the charge, largely because social conversations with smaller merchants tend to strike a far more personal tone, ideal for social channels, versus the ‘salesy’ communication strategies often used by larger retailers,” he said. “As a result, we see SMBs defining the rules of F-commerce.”
To ensure a Facebook storefront directly appeals to brand followers, marketers must be committed to “setting the correct tone” of their messages ― one that is friendly, without any sales and marketing slang, O’Hara advised. “You need to speak with your customers honestly, directly and socially,” he said. “If you’re not ready to do that, you might not be ready for F-commerce.”
Facebook touted more than 900 million users as of August 2012, “representing a huge potential buying audience that most companies cannot afford to ignore,” O’Hara explained. “As our data shows, Facebook storefronts can be a tremendous benefit, but only if they’re implemented and managed correctly.”
Findings for the recent Ecwid study were accumulated from aggregated data based on 180,000 Ecwid-powered online storefronts in 174 countries, 40,000 of which also have Facebook stores.
Serene Jewelry Improves Sales By 20% With Facebook Storefront
Reaffirming the success that SMB retailers are experiencing with F-commerce, O’Hara noted that Serene Jewelry, a small online jewelry merchant, improved sales by 20% by adding the shopping cart widget from Ecwid to its Facebook page.
Specifically, Serene Jewelry was seeking a more efficient way to increase purchases among its target audience: Young college students. “Practically everyone in that age range has a Facebook account,” Elaine Sung, Internet Advertising Sales Executive at Serene Jewelry, told Retail TouchPoints. “With the power of social media marketing, it only made sense to have our online store embedded into Facebook.”
The Ecwid Facebook app allows merchants to integrate a shopping cart widget into the social media experience, accomplished quickly with a simple line of code. Similar Ecwid widget technology can integrate an e-Commerce store into any web site just as easily. Shoppers then can browse inventory, add items to their shopping carts and complete purchases on that site without being redirected to another web page.
Since adding the widget to its Facebook page, “fans receive updates and still communicate them via word-of-mouth,” Sung explained, “but we now have a newer and faster way to capture sales from our target audience.”