The Downsides of F-Commerce / by Grace Kim

An article I wrote back in 2014 with Warp 9 Inc. about the downsides of F-commerce (Facebook as an e-commerce platform). 

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by: Grace Kim

As the most visited website in the world, Facebook’s popularity has grown exponentially since its founding in 2004. The social media network has made a number of developments to the site throughout its history, such as Facebook apps, adding a “like” button, and sending virtual gifts to friends. The conception of social commerce, however, is one of the most noteworthy among these advancements. Popularly known as F-commerce, the ability for retailers to create online stores, termed “storefronts”, and process transactions within Facebook itself would presumably alter the nature of e-commerce forever. The use of Facebook as a direct avenue for sales merges the popularity of social networking with the growth of online shopping.

Facebook’s attempt as an e-commerce platform was met with an underwhelming response. Gap, Nordstrom’s, and JCPenny removed their Facebook storefronts after a short time to turn their attention back to their own company’s ecommerce stores. The downfall of the once promising sales platform has brought about a consensus among retailers and businesses of other ecommerce platform’s superiority. We investigated a number of downsides to f-commerce that brought about its inferiority to other e-commerce websites for selling merchandise.

  • Lack of Space and Customization

Businesses can tailor their online stores to meet the look of their company and brand. In Facebook storefronts, retailers are limited to the general look of a Facebook page. F-commerce users have cited difficulty in finding the store within a page, as well as a confusing checking out process. With individual E-commerce websites, companies work to make each customer’s shopping experience as easy and enjoyable as possible.

Lady Gaga's social storefront

Lady Gaga's social storefront

  • Audience Goals in Social Media Use

A seemingly obvious but crucial point to make is that most users log onto social networking sites for the purpose of, well, social networking. Most users do not use Facebook for the purpose of shopping and are unlikely to even take a look at the online storefronts available. Even if there is a potential customer on Facebook, he or she will want to compare products, prices, and various styles across multiple different stores and are not likely to seek out the social storefronts, but rather direct websites for the brand or popular online shopping sites where much larger selections of products and descriptions are available.

  • Lack of Customer Loyalty

A customer who purchases something directly off of the Macy’s website and is happy with their product and shopping experience is more likely to return to the site for their online shopping needs. Purchasing a product off of Facebook, however, doesn’t create the same connection to the brand that customers feel when purchasing through a direct website. Many large brands and companies try to overcome this factor by accumulating Facebook “likes” but there are some issues that arise with this tactic. For one, liking a page or company on Facebook requires very little effort on the user’s part, meaning most people who like something on Facebook won’t actually take the time to look through the storefront or page. Most Facebook users are aware of this, and this knowledge leads to yet another problem, which is that users don’t actually care how many likes a Facebook page has, and that the number of likes is rarely ever taken as an indicator of how trustworthy and efficient a brand or product is.  

All in all, businesses are better off staying away from f-commerce (for now, at least) and establishing a strong e-commerce platform for their direct websites where they can create and develop their distinct identities for their brands and products. And as always, Warp 9 is there for all its clients to aid in that process.