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May172011

F-Commerce, the Arrival of the Facebook Consumer [ClickZ] article

What is social commerce? Wikipedia defines it this way: "Social commerce is a subset of electronic commerce that involves using social media, online media that supports social interaction and user contributions, to assist in the online buying and selling of products and services."

Let's consider F-commerce or Facebook commerce. It's a subset of social commerce and e-commerce, referring to commerce executed on or influenced by the Facebook platform. Retailers, businesses, and brands are testing a multitude of F-commerce models, and it is not just about pure e-commerce transactions; F-commerce naturally supports social interactions and user contributions. To break it down, we are seeing the terms "commerce on Facebook" and "commerce off Facebook" emerging.

  • Commerce on Facebook: This e-commerce happens inside Facebook, referring specifically to the purchase of real goods and real services inside Facebook with a credit card or other valid monetary system.
  • Facebook stores or F-stores: They're emerging in a variety of formats and are not limited to traditional retailers. The P&G Pampers F-store, powered by Amazon WebStore, sold 1,000 diapers packs direct to consumers in under an hour. ASOS became Europe's first fully integrated F-store allowing consumers to complete purchases without ever leaving Facebook. Delta Airlines launched Delta Ticket Counter, allowing consumers to book and pay for flights inside Facebook.
  • Facebook Credits: The mandatory currency used for games and in-app virtual goods is now being used by Warner Bros. to stream movies in Facebook where consumers pay 30 Facebook credits ($3) to watch.
  • Facebook Deals: This launched April 26 in five cities with the focus on shared experiences as opposed to just discounts. Currently, consumers pay for Facebook Deals inside Facebook with a credit card, with PayPal, or with Facebook Credits, Facebook's own currency that, for the first time, is being used to buy real-world goods.

Commerce off Facebook (on other sites): This is commerce that takes advantage of Facebook's Open Graph, allowing shoppers to sign into Facebook from any online site with a PC or mobile device. There are many early examples of merchants using Facebook Social Plug-ins such as like, share, or recommend or with a deeper integration using Facebook Connect.

  • Facebook-enabled websites: Traditional websites and e-commerce sites that integrate with Facebook to offer customers a Facebook experience while shopping or researching purchases. Log in toTripAdvisor.com with Facebook Connect and you get a personalized experience that allows you to see your friends' travel recommendations, socializing your travel planning and purchases. The Levi's Friend Store launched April 2010 allows shoppers to browse their friends' "likes" by product category.
  • Facebook in-store retail: Brick-and-mortar retailers that integrate with Facebook to offer customers a Facebook experience while shopping in-store. Macy's Magic Fitting Room is a Facebook-connected fitting room equipped with a camera-enhanced 72-inch mirror and an iPad that allows customers to try on clothes and then share the experience with their Facebook friends.
  • Facebook "Check-in Deals": These allow local retailers to drive in-store traffic by offering special discounts to consumers who check in to their location with Facebook Places on their mobile phone. The Gap leveraged check-in deals by offering a free pair of blue jeans to the first 10,000 consumers who checked in at Gap stores. Mazda U.K. offered a 20 percent discount off the Mazda X5 for Check-in Deals when Places launched in the U.K.

Why the excitement over F-commerce? It is where the eyeballs are, with 600+ million users, 50 percent visiting daily. A major game changer are Facebook Credits. For the first time, they are being used as a currency for real-world goods. We are in the early stages of F-commerce. Its evolution will be tracked here in my postings.

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