The vendor community is singing the praises of Facebook stores, although studies suggest f-commerce is not in the best interest of merchants. But with the holiday season approaching, should online retailers invest in Facebook commerce? Multichannel Merchant senior writer Tim Parry caught up with Dale Trexler, owner of retail and wholesale jewelry supply seller Beaded Impressions, for his thoughts on Facebook Commerce.
Q: When did you launch your Facebook store, and who is it powered by? Why was it important to have a vendor-driven Facebook commerce app as opposed to trying to build a Facebook store on your own?
A: We launched our Facebook store with SortPrice about this time last year. We have no development staff in-house, so we needed to implement an “out of the box” solution. I also wanted on-going support for the app as Facebook is known to change things whenever they want with very little notice.
We had been using another Facebook shopping tool, but its capabilities were very limited as compared to the SortPrice solution. Specifically, there was no way to categorize the products, and that is an important feature when you have thousands of products.
Q: What was the vendors’ selling point? Did the SortPrice tell you, “This is where you need to be?” Or did you see this as a channel you needed to be selling in? Were you convinced from the start that it was the right road to take?
A: We were building our Facebook presence and I was looking for another way to reach out and build our brand. I don’t really view the store as a “shopping” environment. It’s more of a tease where our fans may see something they like and then dig deeper by visiting our online store.
SortPrice offered a very easy to implement, low cost app that allowed us to display our full inventory in the categories of our choice. The ability to pass our product categories in our feed was very important. They also support “featured categories” and “featured products” that allow us to post seasonal items for promotions.
Q: What was the goal for your Facebook store? Were you looking at it as a selling tool, or as a social media tool?
A: I look at it as another way to build our brand. Since you can’t really “buy” anything within our Facebook store, it is really just a lead generator. We really still don’t track direct conversions from our Facebook store, so it’s hard to put an ROI on the investment. But, that’s not really our purpose.
We are using the “compare” feature within the app to do some market research on which products have more appeal. We also see interaction with our featured products.
We also run ads to promote our Fan page that link back to the app. We see an extremely high conversion rate for “likes” when potential fans click through to our Facebook store. So, it’s really helped us build our number of Facebook fans in the last year.
Q: Are the products from your store seamlessly pulled direct from your site, or is there “manual labor” involved. How much time was needed to set it up.
A: We use the same feed that we use for all our comparison shopping engines. Right now, we just upload it once a week, but we could have it automated if we really wanted to. We set up the app in a matter of about two hours. I change the “flash sale,” comparison products, and featured items periodically to keep things fresh. That takes 10-15 minutes per session at most.
Q: What’s the benefit been? Has the investment in Facebook commerce paid off, or is there a strong ROI?
A: We see a steady number of referrals from the app – several hundred per month. As mentioned before, we don’t track actual conversions at this point, so we don’t have a specific ROI available. The application is quite inexpensive, so I view it the same way as I do display advertising on targeted sites – building your brand in your target market.