I would argue that the issue isn’t F-Commerce. The problem is the way brands are trying to use it.
Let's step back for a minute and talk about why people use Facebook to begin with. First and foremost, it’s a place to build relationships, connect with family/friends and stalk old high school flames. When brands got into the mix, they learned that they couldn’t just mimic their marketing efforts on Facebook. Brands gain loyal fans on Facebook through building relationships with their customers and giving them something interesting to engage with, which is now even more important with the release of the new Timeline. Facebook has become a complementary channel through which to dispense marketing messages, not the driving force.
Similarly, F-Commerce shouldn’t be considered the main driver of online shopping. F-Commerce is complementary to E-Commerce.
Brands get E-Commerce. Many have run online shops for years. The problem is that instead of stemming their F-Commerce strategies from existing user behaviors on Facebook, they’re trying to replicate the E-Commerce experience. People Like a brand on Facebook to show their loyalty, and they expect to get something in return for their endorsement. Brands should build their F-Commerce strategies with that behavior in mind.
JC Penney's old "F-shop" brought a full shopping experience into a Facebook tab.
A great example of a brand doing F-Commerce well is Diane von Furstenberg (or DVF). Each month, she creates a new special offer that’s only available to Facebook fans. These offers range from an exclusively made wrap dress to a Facebook-only discount. Her strategy gets people to Like DVF on Facebook and incents them return to the page because DVF is rewarding people for being a loyal fan of the brand. She’s making fans feel special.
Diane von Furstenberg's March special offer for Facebook fans
Brands should tailor their F-Commerce to provide exclusive access to products and content. Access could be in the form of an exclusive product offering for Facebook, like DVF, or even an early release to a product line. If you provide something special to your fans, not only will they likely purchase that product, but they’ll also probably share that purchase with their friends.
If we change the way we look at F-Commerce programs – how we create them and measure their success – Facebook shopping will have a real chance to flourish.