What do Gamestop, JC Penney, Nordstrom and The Gap have in common. They all went headlong into creating Facebook stores and have since shuttered them for their own reasons. One thing all reasons must have in common is that the stores weren’t working. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the power of f-commerce. It’s also not a condemnation since there are likely equal amounts of stories claiming the opposite.
Facebook, which this month filed for an initial public offering, has sought to be a top shopping destination for its 845 million members. The stores’ quick failure shows that the Menlo Park, California-based social network doesn’t drive commerce and casts doubt on its value for retailers, said Sucharita Mulpuru, an analyst at Forrester Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
“There was a lot of anticipation that Facebook would turn into a new destination, a store, a place where people would shop,” Mulpuru said in a telephone interview. “But it was like trying to sell stuff to people while they’re hanging out with their friends at the bar.”
Interesting thought. There is some merit in that idea for sure. Me personally, I don’t see Facebook as a place to shop but I don’t see a lot of places as places to shop so I am definitely not a good measure of the success or failure of Facebook as a commerce engine.
Of course, Facebook sees it differently (as they should).
David Fisch, Facebook’s director of business development, said in June that the site would make shopping online, previously a solitary experience, more social.
“This is where people are hanging out,” Fisch said at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition in San
With the Facebook IPO on the horizon this is not the kind of news that Facebook wants to have circulating about its commerce efforts for online retailers. Facebook offered no comment for the original article. Of course, being in the pre-IPO quiet period makes that seem more likely and who wants to recognize that something with their service may not be all it’s up to cracked up to be?
Customers had no incentive to shop at Gamestop’s Facebook store rather than the company’s regular website because purchasing online is already convenient, said Ashley Sheetz, who is the Grapevine, Texas-based company’s vice president of marketing and strategy.
“We just didn’t get the return on investment we needed from the Facebook market, so we shut it down pretty quickly,” Sheetz said in a telephone interview. “For us, it’s been a way we communicate with customers on deals, not a place to sell.”
This final quote from the article really is quite telling.
Wade Gerten, chief executive officer of social media developer 8thBridge, previously known as Alvenda, opened a Facebook store for the florist 1-800-FLOWERS. Minneapolis-based Gerten went on to develop commerce strategies for Delta Air Lines Inc., Diane Von Furstenberg Studio LP and denim-maker Seven for all Mankind.
Cracks in the model showed quickly, Gerten said in a telephone interview. Clients “have taken a different approach,” shutting stores or scaling back their offerings.
“It was basically just another place to shop for all the stuff already available on the retailer websites,” Gerten said. “I give so-called F-commerce an ‘F.’”
What’s your opinion? Have you had a similar experience with F-commerce or has yours been something more like Facebook would like to talk about rather than defend?