Facebook Wants Its Way Into eCommerce

Facebook is testing a feature that enables users to create wishlists of retail products by clicking a want button on items that they… well, want.

Collections – the official terminology for this wishlist function – wont be available to everyone immediately. For now, Facebook has signed up seven US retailers to test the feature, including Victorias Secret, Wayfair, and Pottery Barn.

In fact, during the test period, it seems that Facebook is testing out three different terms – while some users will see a want button on the participating retailers items, others will see a collect button, or even simply a like button. These products – whether wanted, collected, or liked – will then appear on the users Timeline, encouraging their friends to buy the items through a direct link to their online stores.

“Weve seen that businesses often use Pages to share information about their products through photo albums,” read a statement issued by Facebook. “Today, we are beginning a small test in which a few select businesses will be able to share information about their products through a feature called Collections. Collections can be discovered in News Feed, and people will be able to engage with these collections and share things they are interested in with their friends. People can click through and buy these items off of Facebook.”

It looks like the latest effort by Facebook to monetise its platform, following its mildly disastrous IPO early this year. However, it its not an affiliate scheme – according to Facebook, it wont receive a fee for purchases made off the back of this feature.

Facebook is currently remaining foggy on the details. It looks as though the Collections function will be deployed to all US users once the test is over, but whether it will reach other territories still remains to be seen. The feature wont initially be available on Facebooks mobile properties – and it hasnt been confirmed when, if it all, we can expect to see Collections deployed on mobile.

 

Richard Britton, managing director of cloud integrator firm CloudSense, thinks the idea could be exactly what the social network needs to convince brands to that F-commerce is a viable concept.

“Facebook has been working for a long time behind the scenes to make the site more attractive as a retail channel,” says Britton. “Ultimately, advertisers want to drive sales and Facebook wants to demonstrate its value as a sales platform. If Facebook can do this through the ‘Want’ innovation, taking a percentage of each sale for itself, both brands, shareholders and customers will benefit.

“The want button is all about generating sales. The simpler brands can make the buying process, the more likely they are to boost sales. Each extra step in the sales process makes a conversion less likely. The main benefit of f-commerce should be a quick, easy and secure purchasing process, where customers can buy without leaving the site. For this to become a reality, brands need to integrate f-commerce into their sales and order management systems.”

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