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What can F-commerce learn from Pinterest?

15th Mar 2012
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With many retailers closing their Facebook storefronts, ERP analyst Michael Koploy suggests that Facebook commerce (F-commerce) could benefit by learning a trick or two from Pinterest.

Gamestop, J.C. Penny, Nordstrom and Gap are just some of the retailers that have closed their Facebook storefronts due to lack of success, says Koploy.

In a new blogpost, he explains that this is mostly down to the fact that Facebook isn’t an e-commerce site, which results in a contextual disconnect, and highlights the argument of Forrester analyst Sucharita Malpura who likened F-commerce to “trying to sell stuff to people while they’re hanging out with their friends at a bar.”

Instead, Koploy proposes that a better model for F-commerce is one based on referral. Sites such as Mulu and Pinterest cater to social networkers’ desire to refer products to each other, which ultimately drives traffic to retailers’ websites.

He says: “This is very different than F-Commerce, in which Facebook provides a platform for retailers–not friends–to promote products. Mulu’s and Pinterest’s social commerce model would be a good one for Facebook to emulate. It plays on Facebook’s person-to-person focus and site functionality quite well.”

Koploy adds that Facebook has already proven it’s effective at referring traffic, drawing on recent statistics from Shareaholic that showed 26.4% of January’s referral traffic came from Facebook. However Pinterest, with less than 2% the number of registered users as Facebook, referred 3.6% of the total referred traffic within the month.

With Pinterest hot on its heels, Koploy outlines four things Facebook could learn from the new site on the block:

1. Implement a ‘tag’ feature: Pinterest makes it easy for users to ‘pin’ content, where users can attach the content to the bulletin board category of their choosing. Similarly, Facebook could implement a ‘ta’” feature for users to categorise content that they come across that they feel their connections would be interested in.

2. Promote a ‘tag’ button: Facebook should provide tools to make it easy to ‘tag’ products across the web, much like how the ‘pin’ button allows users to categorise content. Retailers should promote these ‘tag’ buttons alongside their other social sharing buttons.

3. Add a ‘category’ function on the homepage: Facebook already suggests lists (updates of users with similar connections) and allows users to like both Facebook Pages and topics from their profiles. Going further, Facebook could allow users to create their own ‘categories’ similar to Pinterest’s boards (e.g., clothing stores, electronics deals and kitchen ideas). These categories could be searchable and accessible from the user’s Facebook homepage.

4. Provide a platform for users to browse the ‘categories’: Users could browse ‘categories’ to discover content their friends have curated. This content would provide links to retailers’ websites if the user is interested in learning more or purchasing the item. Facebook users could also enable these category posts appearing in the Newsfeed, similar to the current Pinterest-Facebook integration.

“These tweaks would create more compelling content by organizing it and making it easier to share with others of similar niche-interests,” he concludes. “This functionally would increase users’ time spent on Facebook (great for the social network); alleviate the F-commerce weaknesses from above (great for retailers); and allow users to promote content directly to each other (great for all).”

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