While Facebook storefronts have been embraced by small businesses in significant numbers, several large brands, including JCPenney and Nordstrom, have shut down their F-commerce efforts in recent months, leaving many questioning the prospects for social commerce as a whole.
Privacy and security concerns may be one reason sales on Facebook have not yet taken off. An Associated Press (AP) and CNBC poll of US consumers conducted in May 2012 found that 54% of respondents did not feel safe buying products or services through Facebook. Only 8% said they felt extremely or very safe making purchases through Facebook.
Consumer unease with F-commerce may be linked to wider privacy concerns that Facebook users have with the service itself. The survey found that about six in 10 Facebook users in the US did not trust the company, or only trusted it a little, to keep their personal information private. While 28% said they trusted Facebook a moderate amount, only 13% trusted it completely or a lot.
It remains unclear how interested social network users are in shopping in the middle of other social activities—there may be an overriding consumer sentiment that Facebook is simply not the place users want to go to buy things. The large brands that have shut down their F-commerce experiments, may have done so in part becuase of the lack of suitable metrics needed to measure a return on investment.
Still, eMarketer projects that there will be 141.2 million Facebook users in the US by the end of 2012, representing a potential audience that is simply too big for brands to ignore. More adventurous brands are likely to continue experimenting with F-commerce in an effort to figure out what might eventually work.
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Check out today’s other articles, “Mobile Drives Direct Response for Other Ad Channels” and “South Korea’s Unique Social Media Landscape.”
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