In case you didn’t already spend enough hours of the day on Facebook (News - Alert) – from checking to see what your friends thought of “The Hunger Games” to sifting through your newsfeed for enough evidence that you should buy a lotto ticket before 11 p.m. EST tonight – Mark Zuckerberg (News - Alert) wants you to spend a little bit more time at his site.
Accordingly, he has given businesses the options to have a “Shop Now” tab on their Facebook business profiles, a tab that allows you to purchase your favorite items from that brand you claim you “like” – all without ever leaving facebook.com. Is Amazon sitting there with its tail between its legs figuring out how it can still be the Internet mogul with all the fancy tricks? You betcha.
A casual visit to CoverGirl’s Faceook profile page, for example, might blow you away. Sure, there’s the obvious Timeline makeover (though that’s old news at this point as all businesses were forced to switch to the new Timeline (News - Alert) by the end of the month). But now, the site also includes a “Shop Now” section in which anyone – even those who don’t admittedly let their social network know they “like” CoverGirl – can peruse the latest eye shadows, foundations, mascaras, etc., and make a purchase right then and there. When you click on “Shop Now,” you might be fooled for a minute into thinking you have strayed from Facebook and headed for CoverGirl’s website, but you would be wrong. Conversely, you can shop and purchase on the CoverGirl Facebook page without ever leaving that social networking site you have so come to love.
As you search each product, what you do get (and what you won’t get at CoverGirl’s website), is the number of people who like each product. You also have the option to share the product with others with a simple click.
Then, once you find that lip gloss that all your friends like and you have added it to your virtual shopping cart, you get to “checkout” – which once again keeps you in Facebook. What’s really neat is you can literally talk to your friends through Facebook chat as you are shopping. So instead of having to go with a friend to the mall and ask “Is this too expensive for lip gloss?,” you can ask her from the comfort of your own home while you are shopping on Facebook.
When you get to checkout, you can either insert your credit card information or use the Facebook Credits that you have already purchased (i.e. you can charge $200 to your credit card at one time to receive 2,360 credits to use when you shop so you don’t have to always pull out your credit card). And, voila – a few number insertions later, you have just made your purchase. It is hard to say how many buisnesses have rolled this out already, but if past Facebook trends have taught us anything, it's only a matter of days.
So folks, whether we are ready for it or not, we are in the age of social commerce.
No longer do we want advertisers and marketers shoving down our throats where to shop and what to buy. Instead, we want to know what our friends, long lost friends and even celebrities are buying. Facebook apparently believes strongly enough that when you see that your college roommate just bought that eye shadow you have been lusting after at CoverGirl (which you find out if she elects to have this purchase show up on her Facebook newsfeed), you might be more inclined to finally push the button yourself. And since Facebook is where you are, why bother gassing up the car for your next purchase?
When you think of how far Facebook has come in less than a decade, it’s certainly exciting, albeit terrifying. What started as a site to connect college friends quickly metamorphosed into a marketer’s best friend, an individual’s break into the competitive business world and Amazon’s worst nightmare.
Facebook’s social commerce ploy is unabashedly Facebook’s attempt to oust Amazon, and similar sites, from cyberspace. The mogul’s latest platform also demonstrates its intent to keep charging forward until it becomes the consummate Internet search engine.
So where is Facebook headed next? Some suggest the social networking empire will soon become larger than Google (News - Alert) as it will craft a search engine capable of searching the World Wide Web for anything, just as Google does. Others posit that cable providers will quickly be brought down once the Zuck and his minions determine how to bring cult following TV shows to the social networking site. And still others speculate that colleges will soon altogether abandon tools like Blackboard (News - Alert) and conduct all their classroom activities via Facebook.
You might think a one-stop shop Facebook site sounds incredible –as you can stalk, search, sell, share and shape all from one site. But what about all the companies Facebook is about to bring down? What about all the jobs that will be lost because of it? And, perhaps we are forced to ask ourselves: Are we single-handedly paving the way for the biggest economic monster we have seen in centuries?