Imagine owning whatever you fancy on Facebook without going to a different site.It’s the new buzzword doing rounds of social networking circuits of the world and the marketers are having a great time introducing it to customers. It is a brand new level of selling and a step ahead of E-commerce, not just by an alphabet but with a different platform altogether. Facebook now allows businesses to sell on or through its social network! The giant has definitely leveraged its power of over 750 million people and turned them into a business opportunity. The number of brands thronging to Facebook is on the rise; so are the people who are making their interests known to public, thus facilitating more target marketing.

There are majorly four types of F-commerce practices undertaken by businesses-

On-site selling by Facebook

The most common example of this kind of selling are social plugins, for example the ‘like’ button which brings the Facebook experience of the user to the site via their Facebook information which is made available to the online business site. Moreover, it helps the user see which of their friends have liked the product page hence providing some peer support. A more sophisticated technique involves Open Graph API which makes available the interests and likes of the user as well as their friends.

Selling initiated on Facebook

Websites set up their product catalogs to begin the shopping process, but somewhere in the middle of it by a click the user is taken to their e-commerce site. The abrupt transition changes the look and feel of the purchase which puts off the user at times.

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Some sites like ‘Best Buy’ take advantage of all the options provided by Facebook before taking the user to its site. For example, if users like a product they have the option either buy it or ask friends which leads to sharing of the product on the user’s wall.

 Selling completely on Facebook

This process keeps the user hooked on to the business page of the brand. These businesses maintain elaborate networks and huge product catalogs on their  Facebook page to facilitate selling. It means, shoppers can choose from a wide range of products, see delivery dates and even include a personal message without interrupting their Facebook experience.

Facebook Apps and iFrames

These are the two ways in which online businesses can display their content on Facebook, each with its own pros and cons. In February 2011, Facebook adopted iFrames which allows businesses to create and host custom content on their 520-pixel middle column of a Facebook Page. The advantage of this format is the ease of the shopping experience. The apps on the other hand, are a little more tedious to maintain and could be hard on the businesses with small budgets and less technical know-how. The great point being they offer a much larger 760 pixel, a 46% increase in space from the iFrames.

The future of F-commerce seems dubious as the users seem to have less faith. A latest JWT study remarked that 75% of people are unsure about Facebook’s privacy and security options. The good news remains that 48% of users in the 20-33 category would like to use Facebook as a means to buy their products. People might have differentiating opinions but one thing is for certain that Facebook remains the largest social networking platform with a A LOT of people who like to buy things which catch their fancy.

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