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Social Commerce – the marriage of social networking and eCommerce

Notes from a Social Commerce Webinar

I’ve been researching the best Facebook eCommerce platforms for a wine retailer (see my discussion board for working notes).

I stumbled across this great webinar “500 Million People and Growing: The Facebook Conversation Turns to Commerce.

The presenters include the Paul Chaney from the small online merchant news site Practical eCommerce, and a couple of guys from one of the more expensive Facebook ecommerce application providers called Milyoni.

social commerce and practical ecommerce webinar

Here’s what they say (in one page rather than 1 hour), confusingly I intermingle my comments with their’s, I hope that makes sense 🙂

Social Commerce – the marriage of social networking and eCommerce

As always they start out by showing how big Facebook (FB) is with the usual plethora of stats:

  • Social Commerce is growing at twice the speed of search, with spending expected to grow 17% compared to eCommerce’s 9%.
  • 1.5 million (mn) businesses are on FB
  • 100 mn using it via mobile apps
  • $76mn spent on FB gifts
  • $630mn in advertising revenue to FB
  • FB is the most active platform for social commerce (vs myspace, twitter etc)

Location Location LocationSan Gimignano Italy

They give an oft-used real estate analogy. If you don’t have the foot traffic going past your website then you won’t get the sales. And the trouble is much of this foot traffic has moved from Google to Facebook.

In Context

Every retailer should be using Email, SEO and Social Media (FB). It’s not OR it’s AND. Something I certainly agree with.

Social Commerce Options

1. Promote Brand Loyalty

Just have a good Facebook Page without a store. A good basic strategy as fans spend an additional $71.84 annually, 41% more likely to recommend them (Forbes).

2. Drive Fans to Website – lead generation


  • one eCommerce site to administer


  • will click off FB which is serious interruption
  • will lose the conversation between fans

Having a FB Page enables impulse purchases. FB users are not there to shop but to converse so through conversation you can encourage buying.

3. “Reshape the buying experience” – which what their webinar is all about

  • It’s a social environment – be part of conversational, don’t interrupt it
  • Its not about shopping, its all about the conversation.
  • Think of it like when you were a teenager going to the mall to hang out with friends. You’re there to socialize, if you walk into the store and find yourself a mile down the street then its very disruptive. Point being to stay where they want to stay – on FB, not on your website.

The ABCs of Social Commerce

A – Store front catalogA is for

  • Within FB, not just a Buy Now link or button to an external store
  • Not every product in the whole catalog but be selective
  • Contextual mix
    • Facebook gives you age, gender and location plus their interests
    • Make the products you show relevant on entry rather than forcing or assuming shoppers will browse
    • It’s as though your store is a “personal shopper” or tailoring the products just for your customer

(Note wine retailers could use the demographic data to present white wine rather red wine, Pinot rather than Merlot… assumes that they are nominated as “interests” however. Hmmn something I’ll explore.)

  • Have Like and share buttons on the product pages
  • Coexists with the traditional eCommerce site – enhance it don’t replace it, nor become just an appendage

(They use a great case study “Cowgirl Creamery” (er, that’s a cheese store). Every Friday they have a special on a select products which they use to drive Fan interest and conversation. Something a wine store could replicate).

B – Social MerchandizingB is for

  • Bring those Fans from their wall/news feed onto your page, then encourage them to share with their friends
  • Merchants – should initiate conversation, promote relevant products, reward participation/purchase
  • Fans/Customers – initiate or extend conversation, recommend, reward those fans who are vocal as they are more valuable
  • Software – make it easy to promote on FB wall / news feed, make it natural
  • Word of Mouth – take it through the FB social network

You have three options for a wall post link:

  • from the general store
  • from the category
  • a specific product (preferred for sales)

A Fan can share products to their friends from a specific product page, care of a prompt like “Publish this story to your Facebook Wall and your friends home page?”. They will also be able to comment on the product link. And so the Link goes back to this product page – which is a purchase page not just a wall comment i.e. this encourages purchase.

  • Always take the attitude of leading with conversation, commerce is the secondary element
  • Entertaining, Informative, Educational creates a good engaging environment. Come up with a schedule of content. Exclusive offer they can get just for being a fan.

They encourage a system that allows the fan to never leave the wall let alone FB. So the login screen, billing, shipping, order completes and pop up confirmation all happen on the wall, not on a separate tab (I’d like to see this before I believe it).

C – Secure Order ProcessingC is for

Retailer’s perceived barriers to Social Commerce implementation:

  • Security and Privacy?
  • ROI?
  • Fear of alienating customers by selling to them? Interupt conversations
  • How to do it?


  • Credit card number usually stays with PayPal not the merchant, it is not stored or kept
  • It doesn’t use other payment methods because it’s convenient to stay inside the FB environment (techies – this is done through PayPals developer x.com system, payvment.com also does this).

Simple ROI Calculation


  • Fan Base (engaged not total) 5000
  • Monthly Conversion rate 1%
  • Average sales price $30

Costmilyoni logo

  • Cost of Goods Sold
  • Time to write post
  • Software eg Milyoni (which I know costs US$1000 per set up plus $100 per month, note you can get cheaper software)

Fear of Alienating Customers

  • FB users want you to become involved because
    • 40% of FB users became fans to receive discounts and promos
    • 39% became fans to show their support for a brand to others (e.g I’m a Moet girl, aren’t I sophisticated sort-of-thing)
  • But watch merchandizing manners – post to engage, commerce is secondar, pace postings, reward fans

Social Commerce Know How

  • See webinars like this (and blogs like mine 🙂 )

D – Order Fulfillment

Take advantage of existing processes e.g. what you use for your eCommerce web store or telephone orders.


A solid review of Facebook eCommerce (or social commerce or f-commerce) and worth the watch. New things for me were the personalization of the store based on the Facebook data you get, and the link to product pages when making wall posts.

Other key points are keepin’ it on FB, conversation not commerce, encouragement of Likes, and Fans are just that – fans – so don’t be shy.

What are your thoughts?

Photos courtesy of Alphabet CardsSan Gimignano.


  1. […] Point being they want to stay where they want to stay – on FB, not on your website.In my previous post I also covered the Disadvantages of leaving Facebook to complete a transaction. The key points […]

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