The world’s most popular website may likely become the world’s most popular marketplace. After some early intriguing experiments, more and more retailers are starting to make use of Facebook as a genuine revenue generating platform.
There is a real mix of how different companies are utilising the Facebook Store API - some, like ASOS are using Facebook as a kind of gateway for a mobile app, others like Amazon - with its Webstore Service - are providing fully integrated online stores such as Procter & Gamble’s Pampers Webstore.
We also have examples of more small-scale and specialist endevaours, like Heinz selling a Limited Edition Balsamic Vinegar Tomato Ketchup via a Facebook Store mechanic. Warner Brothers have also recently made use of the Facebook Store API, by enabling movie rentals via Facebook for films like the most recent Batman sequel - The Dark Knight.
Warner Brothers are making use of Facebook Credits, which undoubtedly will come more into play as one of the Internet’s leading virtual currencies. You buy Facebook Credits for $0.10 (10 cents) each, and they are typically used to buy gaming additions, power-ups and extras. Ongoingly, this will likely become a sort of PayPal system, although there are distinc advantage in maintaining this in its current ’Credits’ format. There are several Facebook games which are aimed at the younger website users; I have already criticised Facebook for not doing enough to stop exploitative charges going though on games like PetVille. Parents should be able to use the Facebook Credits system to limit how much their children spend on games like PetVille - currently it is more a question of how many games makers make use of the Credits system in this way.
There is no question though that Facebook is a rising power in the field of online retail, and an excellent example of proper ’Social Commerce’. As a wrap-around fully dynamic store experience, it cannot yet compete with dedicated sites like Amazon, but it will be interesting to see how this evolves. With a potential customer base of 500 million, there is no doubt that a Facebook Store is an attractive proposition for most retailers. I don’t see Facebook ever becoming the main outlet / interface for most retailers, but it certainly provides a great additional route to market.
From the Affino standpoint, we have done most of the integration now necessary for syncing Affino Store Catalogues with a Facebook Store, we’re really just waiting on customer demand to push forward the first Affino-enabled Facebook Store.