Let me ask you two questions. First. Do you have a Facebook ‘page’? If ‘Yes’ read on.
Second. Would you like to turn those ‘Likes’ into ‘Buys’? Yes again? Then I’m here to help.
The choices that are open to an online retailer or a brand looking to expand into the profitable ecommerce sector expand by the year.
The key component to selling online is bringing customers to your products and getting them back again, that’s why SEO and aggressive promotion is so important to a standalone webstore. Simply put, people don’t know you exist. This is the reason so many businesses have decided to try selling directly from a social media site as it gives you a captive audience with your current followers.
So where to start? It has to be Facebook.
Facebook Statistics (Taken from newsroom.fb.com)
We had 845 million monthly active users at the end of December 2011.
Approximately 80% of our monthly active users are outside the U.S. and Canada.
We had 483 million daily active users on average in December 2011.
We had more than 425 million monthly active users who used Facebook mobile products in December 2011.
Facebook is available in more than 70 languages
With Facebook showing no let-up in its domination of the social space and major brands beginning to really invest time and money into Facebook campaigns and off-line promotions, how often are you encouraged to go to a Facebook page rather than a brands own domain? With Facebook now having upwards of 800 million users, each one connected to approximately 150 friends and 100 pages each, exposure for your business on Facebook is essential. While it may be the most visited site on the web, Facebook users are not known to be there with credit card in hand, but finding a way to purchase an item while staying in Facebook is worth your time.
Let’s take a look at the best avenues available for getting results.
Not immediately obvious but the algorithmic-based, micro-targeted adverts match your keywords with those on a users page to focus directly on a specific market more accurately than you could otherwise hope for.
Facebook strategise this in just five steps.
- Identify your goals. – Define what you want to promote.
- Target the Right People – Based on criteria such as gender, age, interests, education
- Design the Ad – Creative multiple versions to see which is most effective
- Mange The Budget – Daily amount, CPC (Cost per click) or CPM (Cost per Impression)
- Review & Improve – Analyse detailed metrics, edit & optimise ads.
Costs versus the traditional equivalent shows the excellent value possible, but needs time to be focused correctly
- Extreme targeting of ads
- Simple to implement and get started.
- Certainty that your ads ARE being seen by potential customers.
- Lots of potential customers for small amounts invested
- Make sure correct budget type is set or it could become expensive
- Incorrectly target your market.
The Summary: Keep an eye on costs & you will increase traffic to your pages.
While not the same ‘storefront’ type as the other services offered here I thought it would be worth mentioning as a possible option to supplement your own stock or to test the market.
This is Amazon’s ‘affiliates’ program which means you advertise their stock and take a percentage for each sale made. Percentages begin at 5% then increases to 5.5% after 21 sales and so on.
The ‘AStore’ is the section to be interested in as it lets you pick any item from Amazons catalogue, organise them into categories several pages long, (you can add sub-categories such as ‘Fashion’/Girls/T-Shirts/Shoes etc) then you more or less get a micro, bespoke version of Amazon, be able to access features such as item photographs, customer reviews and ‘customer also bought’ info right there in the page. Small touches such as uploading you own header and being able to integrate the store directly into a page, staying on the site, via iframe or HTML (works for Facebook) or a direct link that takes you away from the source page.
- No outlay whatsoever for a huge selection of merchandise you don’t have to pay for or store.
- You don’t even have to take anything to the post office.
- Advertise the use of Amazon technology & account use.
- Earnings potential through large sales.
- Quick to set up & alter AStore & widget contents.
- You can only make small margins to begin with.
- Limited to Amazon’s range
The Summary: Target where you promote correctly and you can only win.
One of the most widely used store ‘apps’ citing various well-known brands on their home page, ‘Shoptab’ offers a free seven-day trial then it’s onto one of three plans:
Standard 500 Products $10 (£6.30) pcm
Expanded 1,000 Products $15 (£9.48) pcm
Ultimate 5,000 Products $20 (12.64) pcm
Differences come through features such as being able to offer ‘featured’ products on your front page, a fan gate and XML uploading. Great features not normally integrated with Facebook stores such as product search and search bar functionality, one of the best is the 0% transaction fee.
- 0% Transaction Fee
- Free Trial
- Weekly feed upload
- Useful Online Support
- Used by well-known brands
- No Free option
- Template can end up similar on a lot of stores
The Summary: The one to try first, give the trial a go.
Boosket offers a free as well as a paid for service (cost available from quotation) and offers a good range of features such as unlimited products, allows manual & xml product import. The free version allows Paypal transactions so with a business account credit cards also.
Boosket has a number of well-known brands signed to their advanced solution which allows coupons, flash sales and special deals.
- 0% Transaction Fee
- A robust free solution, so nothing to lose.
- Multiple Images per product
- Unlimited Items
- Available in five languages
- Full functionality reserved for paid business
- Priority support for paid version only
The Summary: Sits in the middle of the options, check shops already made and the trial.
Payvment bills itself as the number one social storefront for Facebook due to the integration of it’s ‘Mall’ application which effectively lets you add your products to a virtual mall that resides on another page allowing more people, who are browsing items there to discover your merchandise also. Payvment offers three solutions, one free, one for $29.95 (£18.93) and one by quotation, the main differences being the amount of ‘stores’ you can have as well as the support level.
Payvment allows buyers to indicate products they like or have already bought to their friends, tracks sales information and offers Paypal business solutions.
I have used Payvment, free version, personally and it was easy and quick to set up, add products and link to a paypal account. I did have trouble initially organising the shipping costs, but I think it’s just the way the information needs to be entered. My bigger problem was that I had no sales through it.
No sales through the’Mall’ either, which only seemed able to work in the U.S.A. With that said the store looks good on Facebook and while I did not have the greatest amounts of followers I still felt there was something not quite right.
- Easy to set-up & quick to get started.
- Easy to add products and multiple pictures .
- Free to get started, good enough for most.
- Easy to categorise
- Allowing friends to see what you have bought & liked.
- Paypal takes their cut as transaction solution.
- Shipping option not the clearest to understand.
- Mall did not seem to work.
The Summary: Looks the part, easy to start but not do much for sales.
To summarise I think ‘Shoptab’ are the place to begin with their free trial and see how it goes, but I would definitely come at it three ways and add an Amazon Associate account in there and drive people to your page with a bit of investment in Facebook ads.