Originally it sounded like a dream come true for business owners — the ability to sell products from a Facebook page directly to customers. Before that, if a person was visiting a business’s Facebook profile and decided to purchase a product, he would have to open a separate browser window, load the business’s actual website, hunt down the product page, and finally begin the actual purchase process. Understandably, the concern was that many customers would become distracted or lose interest during all these steps. The development of the Facebook storefront was designed to eliminate these issues, but unfortunately, it has largely failed to live up to its early hype. That leaves many retailers forced to either rely solely on their own websites, or shoulder the expense of moving into build brick-and-mortar storefronts.
Many major retailers, including Gamestop, Nordstrom, J.C. Penny and the Gap, have closed down their Facebook storefronts in recent months. The reason for the failure so far of these storefronts can be attributed to several different primary causes. Perhaps the most basic of these causes is simply the fact that many businesses have yet to adapt to the new format of online commerce. Although many people have learned to shop online, most are still unsure how to relate social media to shopping. For Facebook storefronts and similar programs to become successful in the long run, businesses will need to learn how to make the shopping experience just as enjoyable as any other aspect of that person’s Facebook activities. In large part, this can be accomplished by developing a back-and-forth relationship with customers, one that incorporates product updates, inventory support and service, news and announcements and rewards programs, just to name a few ideas. Implementing these concepts, however, is a process that takes time.
A more concrete cause for this lack of success is widespread concern over the safety of personal financial information entered into these Facebook storefronts. The Ponemon Institute found that only 24 percent of individuals studied felt that Facebook storefronts were committed to personal information protection. Therefore, people who might otherwise shop via a Facebook storefront are often willing to go to the trouble of first switching to that retailer’s main site if they feel they will be more financially secure by doing so.
However, there is another issue behind the unimpressive level of success of most Facebook storefronts as well– simple lack of user interest. Many analysts have suggested that many individuals treat their time on Facebook as down time, similar to time spent hanging out with friends at a coffee shop. People generally do not want to be asked to buy things during their social time. Even though they now have the ability to buy things while on Facebook, in many cases, they just do not feel like doing so. It remains to be seen whether time and improved business strategy will gradually improve the level of user interest in buying through Facebook storefronts.
Maire loves to jog, blog and eat peanut butter straight from the jar.