The term “social commerce” is being used more and more nowadays, causing a slight misunderstanding of the true definition. Building brand awareness through social media is not the same as leveraging the platform to sell products and services directly, a strategy that offers tremendous potential for e-commerce merchants.
Facebook is by far the largest and most lucrative network on which to deploy such a strategy, and several viable options exist for today’s retailers. Below is an overview of the leading social commerce solutions designed to sell products on Facebook.
The social commerce platform from ShopVisible is neither a widget nor an application, but rather a fully immersive e-commerce experience for Facebook users. Released earlier this year, the suite of e-commerce, analytics and social marketing tools was designed specifically for selling on the world’s most popular social network. It can be used as a stand-alone platform for Facebook or integrated to an existing e-commerce store, duplicating the experience customers would find on your primary retail website without requiring users to leave the Facebook site. Visitors can compare and contrast products in your inventory and share reviews and promotions with their Facebook friends, and the platform comes with payment processing, shipping, content management, order management, customer relationship management functions and more. ShopVisible offers a free demo of its social commerce solution for Facebook.
Launched last year, the SocialShop app from BigCommerce allows merchants to build retail storefronts on the Facebook site. Similar to ShopVisible’s platform, the app gives users the ability to browse products and share them with their Facebook friends before making any purchases, but unlike the previous solution the transaction itself takes place on the merchant’s BigCommerce-powered website. Retailers simply add the app to their Facebook pages and list the products they want featured, and the platform appears in a “Shop Now” tab that will take visitors from the page and to their own retail sites for purchases. BigCommerce offers a free 15-day demo of the app, and pricing starts at $24.95 per month.
One of the first and perhaps better-known Facebook storefront creators, Payvment uses a flexible API from PayPal to enable merchants to set up their e-commerce stores in minutes. Payvment’s open-cart network technology alows users to complete transactions on the merchants’ Facebook pages, and retailers can set up their storefronts on an unlimited number of pages. Store owners must have a standard or business PayPal account, but no merchant account is required and the free service has more than 300,000 monthly active users.
Whether you want to visit the social commerce party through a free Facebook shopping cart from Payvment (others include Ecwid, VendorShop and Muncom), try a social shopping app like the one from BigCommerce or invest in a fully operational platform such as ShopVisible’s, the important thing is to get out there, be social and start selling.