There is something happening on Facebook that you might not have noticed. What you might have overlooked is the fact that a new term “F-Commerce” which is the social business of having your own online store on Facebook is now emerging and becoming a reality and is being embraced by brands both big and small.
If you visit the Facebook pages of the top 10 major music stars on Facebook, six have their own store on Facebook. Also other top brands such as Warner Brothers, JC Penney and Brooks Brothers are planning on setting up a shop on Facebook.
Smaller brands have set up shop on Facebook such as Vintage Marketplace and Grand Social and the opportunity for people to share their online shopping experiences makes the social commerce online store an attractive proposition for business owners.
Is 2011 the social commerce tipping point? Some pundits are predicting that F-commerce on Facebook will reach as high as $1.2 billion in 2011.
What are the 3 synergistic trends that are combining to assist in producing this momentum?
- Social Web
- Mobile Internet
- Online Retail
These are all growing by double digits when bricks and mortar stores are struggling for survival. This diagram below courtesy of SocialTimes Pro in a recent research report shows some of the key emerging elements and players in social commerce
So how can you build your own store on Facebook?
A new Facebook Fanpage Toolkit is being released today at Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco that makes it easy for the small to medium business to set up their own store totally within the Facebook ecosystem.
So what is it? According to Aaron Friedman the CEO
“Fanpage toolkit is a complete F-commerce platform that empowers its users to create, trend, promote, market and sell products and services within the facebook ecosystem. Fanpage toolkit delivers a full-featured suite of applications for Small Businesses, Brands, Products, Organizations/Non-Profits, Artists, Bands, Public Figures, College Students and Job Seekers to market products and services – to create and manage promotions – to engage Facebook fans and contacts with full messaging and collaboration tools – to a fully integrated “PayPal supported” F-commerce system that allows shoppers to complete transactions “without ever leaving the facebook ecosystem” – complete with a visualization dashboard and full analytics to manage and trend it all”.
There are 3 key steps you will need to take to setup and promote your own F-Commerce store that the Facebook Fanpage toolkit provides without being a programmer .
Step One: Create a Facebook Shop Front
This done using one of the 3 Facebook apps that Aaron and his team have developed called the “Fanpage Creator Application” that will enable you to build either single or multiple landing pages in Facebook without knowing FBML (Facebooks version of HTML) or iFrames.
It comprises the following elements with a wizard-driven system that will walk you through the entire fanpage creation process in four easy steps!
- Anatomy – The first step in building a fanpage is to select a template or a theme. Choose from many different pre-designed templates.
- Content – The next step is to fill in the contents to the selected template. Add appropriate images and links for your business page.
- Customize – Select the sections of the fanpage you would like to customize and change the color, style and font for each section as you wish.
- Publish – Once a fanpage is built, it will be automatically published in your Facebook account.
You can then manage the Fanpages using the same Facebook app. You will be able to subscribe to this app without actually needing to set up a Facebook store but just use it for creating Facebook landing pages
Step Two: Setup Your Store
This is done using the “F-Commerce” app from the Fanpage Toolkit which provides a dashboard providing you with a graphical or tabular view of the total number of completed orders, orders in progress and cancelled orders.
This process involves the following 5 features and functions necessary to operate an online store.
1. Merchant App Profiles where F-Commerce merchants are able to build-out their profile with merchant related information such as….
- Shipping Information
- Contact Information
- PayPal Link App (used to map the merchants PayPal account with fanpage toolkit for payment processing)
- Terms and Conditions
2. Create categories and load products
The merchant can choose the fanpage he/she wishes assign products to and the category selection is made from pre-built list created by merchants in category section. Products information such as description, vendor, availability, price and images, features can be configured for each product.
3. Theme Library
Under this menu, you can select a pre-build color theme for your F-Commerce store.
Shipping selection can be setup with carriers and integration to the US Postal Service, UPS and FedEx.
5. Manage Orders
All orders place via the system are stored in this section for logistics. The system allows for processing and handling of all open, closed and shipped orders. Sales information is then able to be exported for use in third party applications.
You also have a suite of analytics tool provided with the toolkit that allow you to measure statistics such as Fanpage views, promotion views and e-commerce views.
Step Three: Promote Your Facebook Store
The “Promotions Dashboard” will provide you with a graphical or tabular view of the total number of promotional messages. FANvites sent, accepted and declined, as well as the number of coupons generated.
Creating a promotion is five simple steps:
- Select a template for the promotion landing page.
- Fill in the contents to the selected fanpage. Add appropriate names, contents and images for the promotion
- Choose a theme – Select a theme from three available designs and color schemes
- Customize – Select the sections of the promotion you would like to customize for color, style and font
- Publish – Once a promotion design is complete, add start and end dates for your promotion and the status of the promotion
You can even create your own coupons with unique codes for your promotions. Social media promotions can announce announce a promotion across any or all of your social media accounts including Facebook and twitter.
FANvite is a invitation tool to invite your customers and fans to participate in an event, program or a promotion. You can send an ‘Invite’ to your fans and customers of the current Fanpage.
The reality of this in the continuing evolution of the social web and social commerce is that small and medium businesses will now have the opportunity to design and build their own stores in Facebook without requiring the experience and skills of a programmer and the deep pockets of a major brand.
The democratization of the web continues to unfold.