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From E-Commerce to F-Commerce
By: Kaitlin T. Gallucci
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One of the most interesting up-and-coming digital marketing trends is the incorporation of e-commerce capabilities on Facebook pages – often referred to as F-commerce. Facebook has become an extremely popular and mainstream tool for marketers, but the potential of F-commerce is currently being debated, most likely because it is still fairly new territory.

UK-based consumer research firm Shoppercentric conducted a study on consumers’ e-commerce usage. According to this study, only 6% of respondents make purchases through social media channels such as Facebook, compared to 63% who make purchases through brand or retailer websites. Danielle Pinnington, managing director of Shoppercentric, explained that while Facebook is useful for marketing, promotion, and communication with customers, e-commerce is best left to retail websites.

However, some believe otherwise. Econsultancy's Jake Hird points out that Shoppercentric's study was UK-based and Facebook's US user base is five times greater than the UK's. He explains that while the study's findings are accurate, it is likely due to a slow rate of consumer adoption - in other words, don't consider F-commerce ineffective just because it hasn't gone mainstream yet. Similarly, Dell's Head of Social Media Manish Mehta recently said, "Social media may not have driven sales in an obvious way so far, but the next logical step will be transactional social media. When you can buy products through Facebook, rather than just liking them, we'll start to see a shift in the role of social media in the business." Many big brands in a variety of industries are experimenting with F-commerce, including Disney, Nine West, Barneys New York, Coca Cola, 1-800-Flowers, and Delta.

As Hird additionally points out, "best practice e-commerce has taught us that if you have the resources to extend to different touch points, then do it... It's about enabling consumers to have the choice to shop where they choose." With new Facebook technology updates and the appearance of third-party F-commerce developers, Facebook may very well have a powerful future in e-commerce. As usual, time will tell.

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About the Author
Kaitlin T. Gallucci is a New York based direct and digital marketing strategist. She tweets here.
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