Facebook storefonts fail, but f-commerce isn't a failure

Retailers are opening Facebook storefronts only to be forced to shut them down soon after. Is this Facebook's fault or are the companies not taking the right approach?
Written by Emil Protalinski, Contributor

Over the past year, GameStop, Gap, JCPenney, Nordstrom, and other retailers have opened a store on Facebook to generate sales from their Facebook Pages with millions of Likes. While they opened storefronts with plans to monetize their Facebook fans, they couldn't figure out how to do so and ended up shutting down their f-commerce attempts.

The stores' quick failure shows Facebook doesn't drive commerce and casts doubt on its value for retailers, according to Forrester Research analyst Sucharita Mulpuru. "There was a lot of anticipation that Facebook would turn into a new destination, a store, a place where people would shop," Mulpuru told Bloomberg. "But it was like trying to sell stuff to people while they’re hanging out with their friends at the bar."

The Bloomberg article ends with the following conclusion:

Wade Gerten, chief executive officer of social media developer 8thBridge, previously known as Alvenda, opened a Facebook store for the florist 1-800-FLOWERS. Minneapolis-based Gerten went on to develop commerce strategies for Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL), Diane Von Furstenberg Studio LP and denim-maker Seven for all Mankind. Cracks in the model showed quickly, Gerten said in a telephone interview. Clients "have taken a different approach," shutting stores or scaling back their offerings. "It was basically just another place to shop for all the stuff already available on the retailer websites," Gerten said. "I give so-called F-commerce an 'F.'"

8thBridge Marketing Manager Melissa Buening told me that Gerten's comments were taken and twisted out of context. Gerten published a counterpoint over at Forbes, using Ticketmaster and Delta Airlines as examples of companies that are leveraging f-commerce correctly. Here's an excerpt:

The best way to monetize social media is to empower people to promote products to their friends not for brands to spam you on Facebook. Online shopping experiences are better when they’re social.

People drive social commerce (not brands).

Innovative brands like Ticketmaster and Delta Airlines have recognized that what they really need to do is simply get out of the way. If they just give people an easier way to express how we feel about them and their offers with our friends – we will.

In short, there are companies who are using Facebook to grow their business and those who are failing to do so. Here's the trick: don't just shove your products onto Facebook users; build a service or feature people will actually want to use with their Facebook friends. Increased sales will follow.

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