Talking tech since 2003

Bloomberg recently reported that many big name retail brands have been shutting down their Facebook storefronts because the return on investment just hasn’t been great enough to justify keeping them open. The so-called F-Commerce (Facebook Commerce) was praised heavily last year as the next big thing in e-commerce, but unfortunately, it hasn’t played out as well as many expected.

In the past year, Gap, JC Penny, Gamestop, and Nordstrom have all opened and subsequently closed their Facebook storefronts. All of them anticipated that they would be able to get Facebook users to buy items through their storefronts on the site. The idea being, with almost half a billion users on the site every day, surely they could be swayed to spend money on physical products (e.g. clothes, shoes, video games). But that hasn’t been the case. Why?

The problem these companies are facing with their Facebook storefronts is that people do not think of Facebook as a place to buy things. At least, aside from buying things in games such as Farmville. People do not go to Facebook to go shopping.

I spoke to a friend of mine and asked her if she were going to go shopping (online) would she use a Facebook storefront or just go to the company’s website? Not surprisingly, she said, she would go to the company’s website. Why? She doesn’t think of Facebook as a place to buy stuff.

At its root, Facebook is a communication platform. People use it to connect and communicate and brands can use it to spread a message and interact with their fans and customers. Could this sentiment change? Certainly it could, but first, you would need to change the consumers mindset.

Then of course, the question becomes, is it worth it for brands to do? I don’t think so at this point. The value added for the customer with a Facebook storefront is minimal. You can easily promote and sell your products using a Facebook page and targeted Facebook ads with links going back to your site to complete the purchase.

I’m not saying brands shouldn’t have a page on Facebook because they absolutely should — there is a lot of added value that can be created with a Facebook and Twitter page. It’s about using the right tool for the job and right now using Facebook as a storefront is not the right tool for increasing your sales.

Have you tried using Facebook as a store? What do you think?

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