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BizReport : Social Marketing : February 21, 2012

F-commerce = Fail?

Businesses have flocked to Facebook, boosted by the social network's mammoth membership numbers, but lately a few stores have been pulling down the shutters and shutting up shop. Has Facebook failed with f-commerce before it really got started?

by Helen Leggatt

Yesterday I reported on data that suggested Brits are becoming bored with Facebook. Today Experian Hitwise data shows the Australians may be harboring the same attitude.

And now, recent reports even suggest that the 'f' in f-commerce may stand for "fail".

With a user-base approaching 1 billion, brands and companies have had high hopes for the social network. Not only could they engage with consumers but many had an eye on using Facebook to sell their wares.

However, reports illustrate that quite a few f-commerce players have already shut up shop, disillusioned with the reality and potential of the exercise.

With over 3.5 million Facebook Fans, Gamestop opened up a store on Facebook only to shut it down six months later. Other big brands have done the same including Gap, J C Penney and Nordstrum.

Put simply, consumers are happy to Like and recommend brands and companies on Facebook but they don't see it as the place to make purchases. Most consumers already find what they want easy to purchase online direct from websites.

"There was a lot of anticipation that Facebook would turn into a new destination, a store, a place where people would shop," says Forrester Research analyst Sucharita Mulpur, via Bloomberg. "But it was like trying to sell stuff to people while they're hanging out with their friends at the bar."

But, as Wade Gerten, chief executive officer of social media developer 8thBridge, points out in an article to counter Bloomberg's doom and gloom piece, there are f-commerce success stories, too. The companies that empower people to promote their products to their friends instead of spamming Fans with brand messaging are the ones seeing real results, he says.

Tags: e-commerce, f-commerce, Facebook, online sales, online store, social network

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