Recent changes to Amazon have been proving a little scary for third-party sellers. On the upside, Facebook’s new features, which will enable you to conduct more transactions directly on its platform, might just be enough to offset any concerns you’ve had about Amazon.
Naturally you’ll still need to beware of other people’s platforms pulling the rug out from under you, but since you’re likely already using Facebook to market your business in some way, shape or form, the new features should help you sell more on the world’s most popular social networking site.
Here’s what’s new with Facebook, and how to take advantage of recent changes to boost your ecommerce business.
How Facebook is encouraging more transactions through its platform
Facebook’s new features will enable users to perform the following actions, right from their business pages:
- Get quotes.
- Book appointments.
- Order food.
- Buy tickets.
Some of these transactions will be handled by Facebook itself. Others will be possible thanks to the network's partnerships with Delivery.com, Fandango, Ticketmaster and Slice.
Clearly, Facebook knows its audience well. Recent stats show that, globally, users spend an average of 20 minutes or more per day on the social network. In the United States, that time frame stretches to as much as 40 minutes per day.
By making itself more business friendly, Facebook is clearly looking to become even more of a destination-site than it already is.
Meanwhile, helping people find specific local businesses will continue to be Google's domain -- particularly when it comes to its Google Maps tool. Another big site in this context is Yelp, since Facebook’s updates won’t do much to make businesses more discoverable.
And while it's nice to know that Facebook is looking to boost ecommerce sales through its site, marketing and the need to build a following will still be businesses' chief concerns. Facebook, it turns out, seems to have little interest in getting business posts into other people’s feeds, including those who already like your page. A strong ecommerce marketing campaign could make a big difference.
Facebook has also introduced a new recommendation tool. This feature will enable users to ask friends what they think about a particular local business, and all this information will be stored in one central location. If you thought that positive online reviews were important before, you'll find that they’re just about to become even more vital to your online success.
Setting up your Facebook store
If you aren’t selling on Facebook already, this is where you’ll want to start. To start taking advantage of Facebook’s new features, you’ll need to set up a Facebook store. This can be done from your Facebook page, something you likely already have.
Once your store is set up, your visitors will be able to click on your store tab and buy directly from your page. This process is somewhat technical if you choose the do-it-yourself route. You’ll need to create an app, upload your product information and then connect it all to a shopping cart.
A better alternative would be to find an app that automatically connects and syncs all of your products to your Facebook store. This will save you from having to update products on your Facebook store every time you make changes to them on your primary website.
Shopify and BigCommerce are among some of the better options available, so if you’re using one of these ecommerce solutions already, getting your Facebook store set up should prove easier.
Taking advantage of Facebook’s new features
In order to leverage Facebook’s new roll outs, you’ll need to think strategically about your business model as well as user behavior.
Some of Facebook's new features may not tie in directly with your particular business model. After all, ecommerce businesses usually focus on the sales of niche products, rather than providing quotes, booking appointments, food orders or ticket sales for events.
There are still ways to take advantage, however: If you have any customizable product service offerings or bundled product packages, you can encourage users to get a quote from you. Consider that anyone looking for a quote is likely looking to buy and that this could generate more qualified leads for your service.
Meanwhile, don't ignore the importance of response time. You already know how critical it is to get in touch with leads after their initial signup. And it’s just as important -- if not more so -- to act quickly with social media marketing.
Need to book customer appointments? If it's not a major strain on your business, offer to speak directly with new Facebook prospects, to help them find what they’re looking for, and customize their order. This could prove a resource-intensive process, so only you can determine whether or not that service will be practical for your business.
As for online orders, unless you’re a fast food business serving local customers, it won’t be to your benefit to make an ordering service available through your Facebook page, though you might be able to use the page for event tickets.
Meanwhile, you’re likely aware of the value of content marketing in building trust and credibility with your target audience. Hosting an industry event could be a great way to establish your authority as a business and could even become a valuable income stream for you. You will have to think about whether your event will be for people looking to learn about and build ecommerce businesses, or for potential customers, because that distinction will change the event's dynamics considerably.
Facebook is clearly rolling out these new features in an effort to make transactions easier for local businesses, and for people to be able to check out the reputation of those businesses. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t room to get creative if you don’t fit the prescribed mold of designers, ticket sellers, spas, fast food chains and so on. If you do happen to fall under one of these categories, the new features could prove even more invaluable.
Traffic sources must always be considered in an ecommerce valuation. The more diverse they are, and the less reliant you are on any individual one, the more stable your business will appear to potential buyers. This will also mitigate risk when it comes to Google slaps or algorithmic changes to social media platforms.
With a Facebook page, you will not only create another source of traffic, but another source of revenue. You will need additional resources to oversee your Facebook presence -- definitely a factor you should consider before jumping headlong into selling on Facebook.
But taking advantage could also help you grow your business; and that's the real point here, right?