Facebook revealed its brand new e-commerce offer on Monday.
Or more strictly speaking, m-commerce (mobile commerce, if you didn’t know).
Following an announcement by the social network, retailers will be able to sell their products directly within the Facebook App, a smoother alternative to redirecting to a separate site to complete a purchase. This is no problem on desktop, but when it comes to smartphone and tablet purchases the experience is less than ideal.
About 20 per cent of time online is spent on Facebook (or so the company claimed recently at Ad Week), so understandably there’s a feeling that this has the potential to shake-up online retail in a big way. Nowhere is this more true than in the UK, where 14.4 per cent of all retail purchases will be made online by the end of 2015, the highest proportion in the world.
A third of those sales will take place on mobile.
The shift to mobile retail
Given those statistics it’s not surprising that Facebook is prioritising mobile in its e-commerce offer. Neither is it surprising that they’re not the first.
Back in September Twitter released a similar e-commerce offer which focuses on allowing easy shopping without leaving the app.
That both companies released their app updates in the final quarter and just before Christmas is unlikely to be a coincidence. The term “pre-christmas” is being thrown around with more and more enthusiasm following the arrival of Black Friday in the UK. There’s now an even longer run up to the biggest time of the year for retail and one that platforms are wise to tap into.
There’s no better time than the inevitable rush of online spending to demonstrate the usefulness of the tool for brands and advertisers, and no better time to gather useful data from purchases linked to the wealth of data associated with each social media profile.
Making the pre-christmas scramble for a bargain easier is a no-brainer. It’s the perfect time to improve the user experience, show off new features to brands and advertisers, and collect invaluable user data to rival even Amazon’s powerful algorithm. Not only will Facebook and Twitter have information about previous purchases, but a network of millions (or billions) of similar users with which to figure out product recommendations.
It’s not like online retail wasn’t a big deal before this creep into our social media, but it’s likely to make a much bigger impact now that Facebook is on board.