Facebook is giving social commerce a serious second try. In a recent development reported by BuzzFeed, the social network is testing a shopping experience that allows users to buy items directly from business’ Facebook pages. The company is building shops within Facebook Pages, essentially mini e-commerce sites that give businesses a chance to set up a second store within the walled garden of Facebook.
From product discovery to checkout, Facebook wants to handle the entire shopping experience just like Google wishes to do with “Purchases On Google”.
Added to this last year during July, Facebook had revealed that it is testing a new feature with ‘a few’ small and medium-sized businesses in the US – a Buy button. The goal was to help businesses drive sales directly through Facebook via News Feed ads and Page posts.
Along with US, Facebook is gearing up to make commerce happen in its second largest market, India. According to an ET story, Facebook is looking to tap the rising enthusiasm in India for online shopping by launching a shopping festival named ‘Tied Together’ on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan. The plan involves setting up a website in association with media agency conglomerate GroupM between August 12 and August 29, the day of the festival.
Media agencies said that Facebook’s pitch note says brands can “unlock the power of social media that can reach 10 crore potential customers through this event.” Facebook’s role will be to use its subscriber base and social networking platform to drive traffic to the shopping site.
Facebook and GroupM stayed away from commenting on the story, but sources have informed that participating companies will have to pay a fee that will be shared by Facebook, GroupM and other media agencies. Facebook, which has 11.2 crore users in India, is said to be looking for a title sponsor at an asking rate of Rs 3 crore and a principal sponsor at a similar rate besides associate sponsors for Rs 1.5 crore each.
Online shopping festivals are nothing new for India where the industry is set to cross business worth $16 billion by the end of 2015, a joint study by ASSOCHAM-Deloitte said. Google’s Great Online Shopping Festival 2014 was a roaring success with 450 eCommerce companies participating. The three-day event was a huge success, with Google reporting over 1.4 crore visits to its site throughout GOSF.
The success was largely due to strong participation from smaller cities like Ranchi, Guntur and Hubli and people using mobile phones to shop. Compared to 2013, the user engagement was up by seven times from 20 lakh visits said Google India Industry Director eCommerce, Nitin Bawankule.
The recent annual assessment of the Internet economy by Mary Meeker also stated that 65% of India Internet traffic is dominated by Mobile and 41% of total eCommerce sales was driven by mobile in 2014.
This itself should be a big boost for Facebook in India as out of 125 million monthly active user base, 114 million access the social network by mobile. If this clicks for Facebook, it will also solve its revenue problems to a great degree from a market where it still earns 15 cents per user in India every quarter, compared to the $7 to $8 it makes on each U.S. user.
However, it would be interesting to watch how Facebook conducts the event and what would be the response from users and etailers.