2010 has been an explosion for Facebook in the merchant space. So what is the link between the much improved e-commerce experience and activity on Facebook, with it’s new technology and social activity around video? Read on and find out…
Facebook and e-commerce – a natural business combination
- TECHNOLOGY. Shopping cart technology has already made great strides in 2010, with a plethora of new e-commerce applications, including shopping engines, social shopping / bookmarking, deals and coupon sharing, fan apps, and free shopping cart solutions which keep the entire shopping experience on Facebook. (And, it doesn’t even require you to have a merchant account.) As a result, thousands of online stores have now sprung up on Facebook. Also to help improve the experience for both consumers and merchants, Facebook’s API allows for both increased personalization of the browsing experience, and also better data mining into actual, real-time user behavior.
- EASE – Unlike other dynamic online platforms, creating a Facebook site with e-commerce features and functionality doesn’t require a programming background. Facebook sites are mostly CSS and HTML, with just some Facebook Markup Language (FBML) code spliced in for Facebook-specific stuff (which you can learn more about on the facebook developers page)
- TRUST – Social commerce is based largely around who you trust. According to this Nielsen survey, 90% of people trust recommendations from people they know, and Facebook’s “like” button is the perfect way to recommend a product to a friend. “We trust our friends…if our friends like a product and we know that, our interest in the product increases,” says Brad. “This is quite a market…and no matter who you are, you care about what your friends think.”
- SIZE – Over 500 million people are already on Facebook, and over half that number are considered to be active users. Brad predicts “Over a billion people from around the world (more than half outside of the US) will be using Facebook by the end of next year (if not before).”
- INCLUSIVENESS – According to the Mashable article “5 Ways Facebook’s Open Graph Will Impact E-Commerce,” Facebook’s “Like” button is already visible on over 50,000 websites. Facebook is also providing an API-based way to access what they’re calling a user’s “Open Graph,” which is a list of everything someone has “liked” across the entire web – that includes music, books, restaurants, food, products, and businesses.
- DISCOUNTS – Brad explains that when someone ‘likes’ your Facebook page, they are now in your marketing system (if you know how to create/use one), getting them an incentive, like a discount. “If they buy right there could be enough to get them to both buy the product and like your page…two wonderful benefits.”
- CENTRALIZATION – Facebook keeps the entire shopping experience right in the storefront, without having to ever go off Facebook if you don’t want people to. This is well demonstrated with Facebook storefronts such as Best Buy and Yes to Carrots.
The opportunities with video in Facebook for e-commerce
Aside from the Video Tabs or Walls you will find on an increasing number of Facebook sites, e-commerce video features are popping up on a rapidly-increasing number of storefonts. Brad says “with FBML, you can embed Flash (.swf and .flv) files, which means that your users can see a video of the product in action and buy it from the page as well.”
I had the opportunity to review two special Facebook solutions that showcase both the technology and opportunities with video: One free solution shared by Brad for the small-to-medium business (SMB) crowd, and one solution by online technology platform provider Liveclicker for the larger merchants.
Payvment: Facebook’s free e-commerce app for selling premium digital video content
Payvment is an application, or widget that allows anyone to create and operate a retail storefront on Facebook. Here are some of its nifty features:
- Free – Payvment is a free e-commerce app for storeowners, and anyone can be a storeowner – no merchant account required! (All you need is a standard or business PayPal account to collect your sales revenue.)
- Search – you can search for products on either just the one Facebook store you’re already on, or on all Payvment stores on Facebook. When you’ve completed your shopping experience and are ready to checkout, Payvment then has you do just one single purchase that pays out all of the retailers.
- Savings – when a user “fans” or “likes” the actual shop (or ‘storefront’) on Facebook, they automatically a discount on their purchase.
- Sweet – (I just wanted to say, “sweet.”
Liveclicker’s solution: Embedding an interactive e-commerce video player directly into the Facebook Wall
Justin Foster, Co-Founder and VP of Market Development for Liveclicker, demoed for me their own interactive video player that can embed right into Facebook on the consumer sharing side or on corporate fan pages. Customers are able to watch the video embedded right in the Facebook site’s wall, and click on the “Buy” button anytime to receive a list of product purchase and sharing options
Sharing e-commerce video in Facebook
The Liveclicker Facebook e-commerce video player also lets the customer click the share button in any of the videos, which they can then choose the “facebook” option, which will automatically share to their own facebook stream.
What’s next for Facebook and video e-commerce?
Justin informed me that earlier this month, Liveclicker launched their Facebook fan page with video integration. Facebook is slated to make additional API changes that will enable even richer video shopping integration in the future. When I asked Justin about his thoughts on Facebook and interactive video commerce, he said only, “the future is bright.”