Later this fall, L2 will host its next clinic on commerce, specifically, on e, f, and m-Commerce. While booking speakers and assembling the agenda, it became clear that for both brands and agencies, two of these platforms were far more familiar, far more popular than the third. It doesn’t take much to guess which is which. With just 7 percent of Facebook-present brands having experimented with any type of f-Commerce strategy (and even fewer currently active), Facebook is a pretty lonely place right now in terms of retail. Particularly when it comes to luxury retail. According to our 2012 Digital IQ Index: Facebook report, just two brands among the Prestige 100 — f-Commerce pioneer Oscar de la Renta and French beauty brand L’Occitane — still maintain f-Commerce storefronts. Some, like Tory Burch and Diane von Furstenberg, operate partial f-commerce, meaning, the purchasing starts on Facebook but the final transaction takes place on the main site. There are also region-specific exceptions like Esteé Lauder Australia, which launched an f-Commerce campaign through its localized page this past May. For the most part, though, luxury brands focus their resources on e-Commerce and mobile.
New data released by the team at e-Commerce software outfit Ecwid (“e-Commerce Widgets”), however, has revealed that luxury brands could be among those best positioned for f-Commerce success. Analyzing more than 40,000 global accounts that operate f-Commerce and site storefronts, Ecwid found that what they call SMBs (“small- to medium-sized businesses”) could very well outdo their giant corporate counterparts, many of whom (Gap, J.C. Penney, Gamestop, et al.) have already endured high-profile f-Commerce failures. Contrast this with SMBs’ impressive 17.3 percent Q1 growth on the platform.
Why the disparity in success? Ecwid suggests a few reasons. Because specialized SMBs tend to have like-interested audiences (be they fashion-minded, beauty-minded, shoe-minded, etc.), it’s more manageable for their page administrators to create a close-knit community. Or, as Ecwid refers to it, “strik[ing] the right tone, a more personal tone.” Once that tone is established and well-received, SMBs can more easily introduce topics such as items-for-sale. In the case of ODLR and DvF, two brands that sell Facebook-exclusive products through their f-Commerce storefronts, this conversation is easy to frame in a way that will excite fans; all administrators need to do is play upon the item’s uniqueness, short-term availability and brand-representativeness. Ultimately, readers feel lucky to have made the purchase, not force-fed an out-of-touch corporate campaign that asks for money.
There’s no doubt that Facebook users use the social network primarily for social reasons. There is no research that even hints Facebook will eventually be a retail-driven Amazon or even a specialty retailer like Net-a-Porter. But this new research does show that f-Commerce potential does exist, it just takes the right brand, the right product, and most important, the right tone.