Ever heard about F-commerce?
Yes, you probably have: Facebook Commerce was supposed to be the future of e-commerce. Was, because we now know that things are not that simple: One cannot multiply one’s revenue simply by adding a Shop tab on their Facebook Page. So is Facebook Commerce nonsense? Mostly, yes. But more importantly, F-commerce is just a tiny part of what social media can bring to e-merchants.
First things first, let me remind you of the definition of social commerce from Wikipedia:
Social commerce is a subset of electronic commerce that involves using social media and online media to support social interaction and user contributions, to assist in the online buying and selling of products and services.
As you can see in the top graph, social commerce is a subset of e-commerce. The truth is that there is no revolution: social commerce already existed in the last century through Amazon and Ebay. Furthermore, the foundations of social commerce were established more then 10 years ago in the Cluetrain Manifesto: “Markets are conversations“.
That being said, what is social commerce really about? To make a long story short, several business practices have already been identified and associated with social commerce :
- Buyers community (GDGT)
- Group buying (Groupon, Living social)
- Purchase sharing (JustBoughtIt)
- Curation (Polyvore, Pinterest)
- Social advice (Fashism)
- Co-shopping (like the Shop Together engine used by Charlotte Russe)…
Now that we have defined what social commerce is all about, let’s study how you can benefit from it. Using social media in order to maximize your sales can be achieved through:
- Visibility, because social media is perfect to extend the reach of your offers. Blendtec and Old Spice are great examples of how much traffic a sharp social media presence can drive.
- Reputation, because online conversations are really effective means to build a great brand image. Dave of Saddleback Leather or Ramon from Domino’s Pizza are great examples of individual entrepreneurs who managed to gather an online community.
- Proximity, because social media allows you to shorten the distance between your brand / products and your potential customers. Beauty Swatch is a nice example of everyday women selling beauty products to everyday customers (no Photoshop, no BS).
- Contextualization, because it is all about reaching the right customer at the right place and the right moment. Canon is doing a great job gathering members inside their official groups on Flickr. Is it better to be present on Flickr than on Facebook? Ideally both are good, but you will have much better conversations on the social platform related to your product or service.
- Recommendation, because there are numerous social platforms to help you choose your next purchase through photo-powered technology (WheteToGetIt), profile-based recommendations (Etsy Gifts), or algorithm-driven ones (Hunch).
- Customer care, because social media is where people ask for help or complain about their shopping experiences. Hence, there is no better place to demonstrate your love for your clients.
As you can see, social commerce is deeply connected to traditional e-commerce and CRM. If you you really want to try F-commerce, nobody will prevent you from doing so, but there are many other options to explore before trying to fit your online shop into a tiny tab.
Fred Cavazza, Contributor
I cover how social media, mobile, and the cloud impacts our web usage.