Facebook continues to demonstrate value for the retail environment. Building on the propensity to drive engagement and viral impact among consumers, social commerce is making its way to the mainstream scene. E-commerce platform Payvment is making noise on the social sphere, delivering the capability for retailers to streamline a Facebook storefront for free.
Launched in November, the platform has enabled small to mid-sized retailers to download a storefront and set up shop to give Facebook users something to shop about. Indicated a promising concept for the industry, there have been over 125,000 products up for sale on the popular social networking site, while 500,000 Facebook users (out of nearly 500 million total) have shopped with the app.
“Facebook is one of those [sites] where nobody likes to leave,” said Christian Taylor, CEO, Payvment. “That’s bad for brands. Retailers were getting lots of fans, but trying to get anyone to leave the network [to purchase] became a nightmare.”
Taylor said the platform was designed to nurture the growing need for consumers to transact on Facebook. The transactions since its November launch, Taylor said, quantfy “tens of thousands” of dollars per day.
Organic cosmetics brand Orglamix is one of the smaller retailers that have jump-started business by offering a Payvment storefront — to great success.
Recently Payvment announced $1.5 million in new funding led by the founders of PayPal, Blue Run Ventures. Taylor said a beta program with well-known retail brands is under way and new tools for larger brands will launch in June.
The social commerce concept became a hot commodity when 1800Flowers.com became the first retailer to launch a Facebook storefront last year, enabling shoppers to purchase items directly from the retailer’s fan page without having to click through to the e-commerce site. In February, the online florist announced the capability for Facebook fans to purchase items directly from its news feed (honing in on the community aspect) without leaving the page.
“This is a brand new world — turning Facebook into a shopping mall,” Taylor said. “So we wanted to be able to get feedback, and the best way to do it was to [give the technology away for free]. We need the feedback for those features. It will always be free to [retailers] because you’re helping us out. Out of the five months of letting everyone have it for free, 75-to-100% of our features that are on the application now have been built.”
Retailers can add unlimited products to foster more discoveries on the customer-front, as the Facebook storefront is designed to function like any other consumer-driven storefronts. Taylor said Facebook users can browse categories, leave comments, read reviews and ultimately, add items to their shopping cart and checkout.
There’s also an option for retailers to connect their Facebook store with their e-commerce site. If a customer adds an item to their cart and then leaves without converting, they can complete that order from their Facebook storefront.
Purchasing Goes “Off the Wall”
Now that social commerce is coming to life, other players in the space are making noise with innovative solutions to foster purchasing at every possible Facebook touchpoint. Also in November, Columbus, OH-based Resource Interactive unveiled a technology called “Off the Wall,” designed to enable brands to post items for purchase as status updates to its Facebook page.
In turn, fans can purchase the products directly from their live feed, news feed or the brand’s wall without ever leaving Facebook. They can also share this status update with their friends. Off the Wall is aimed at addressing the on- demand customer. The system also offers the opportunity for retailers to offer customers rewards and privileged shopping access to hot items or time-sensitive deals.
Dan Shust, Director of Emerging Media from Resource Interactive’s research and development lab, proclaimed the potential for these technologies in a press release. “Not only is enabling Facebook users to shop from the feed without leaving the experience ground-breaking in itself, but the sheer network effect is also worth considering,” Shust said. “The average Facebook user has 130 friends. If a brand with 100,000 fans published an Off the Wall e-commerce update, it’s merely one click away from being shared with 13 million Facebook users. Imagine the possibilities.”
Payvment’s Taylor said the concept of social shopping is a natural progression to keep up with consumers’ pace. “You need to be where the people are,” he said. “If you look at what makes Amazon marketplace or eBay marketplace, why do retailers want to launch storefronts on these entities? It’s very simple. They want to be where the people are. If you think you’re going to drive traffic away from Facebook, it’s not going to happen, so why lose the sale? You should be selling anywhere you think you possible can.”