Everything Changes, Nothing Stays the Same
Last week Bloomberg.com published an article entitled “Retailers Shut Facebook Storefronts amid Apathy” in which they painted a pretty bleak picture of Facebook as a vehicle for online sales. GameStop, a company with 3.5 million fans, opened a Facebook store only to shutter it six months later. So did Gap, J.C. Penny, and Nordstrom. Of course, this begs the question – Should I have a Facebook store?
My answer is an emphatic “It depends.”
Here’s what we know:
- Social commerce in general is still relatively new when you think about how long it took for eCommerce as a sales channel to take off. The people who do buy on Facebook could still be considered early adopters. This indicates to me that it’s way too early to abandon ship.
- The examples above are clearly not representative of the typical winery who maintains a Facebook presence. These are large retailers with a strong Internet presence and substantial traffic, not to mention very large product catalogs. For them, the line is more distinct. Facebook probably should be more about building community, leaving the shopping experience to the website. For our customers that line is fuzzier. Facebook offers an engaged audience, some of whom found your page through friends. You could send them back to your website to make a purchase, but should you? Once again, it depends. My inclination is to say no. It’s an extra step and you run the risk that those visitors will become distracted along the way.
- Social media is on the verge of becoming the dominant driver of online content. According to a recent study by comScore, it represented 16.6% of Internet time in 2011. While the benefits of maintaining a storefront are still up in the air, the benefits of maintaining a strong presence clearly aren’t.
“All things are difficult before they are easy.” Thomas Fuller
I built my first eCommerce store in 1997. To put that date in perspective, Google was incorporated in 1998. While it was never easy, both my husband and I made a nice living from that business and I still look back fondly at those days. ECommerce is a whole new ballgame today, but the one valuable lesson that I learned is that everything changes – not just from one year to the next, but rather from one week to the next. I found that once I learned how to optimize my site for one search engine, its algorithm would change, or another search engine would enter the scene. The key to success online is perseverance, patience, and a relentless quest for knowledge. Some things will work. Others won’t. But you never know until you try.
So, to go back to my original question, “Should I have a Facebook store?” - If it were me, I would go for it.