Many small businesses are turning to Facebook not only to reach more clients but also to sell more products. Specialists have coined the term F-commerce and, since 2009, it has been on the rise. F-commerce describes the number of small businesses selling on their Facebook pages, but this rise has not been instigated or even promoted by Facebook. Instead companies have begun this new trend on their own. “Retailers are experimenting in a number of ways,” said a Facebook spokesman.
In fact small businesses are having much more success on Facebook than the big corporations. Sucharita Mulpuru, a retail analyst at Forrester, said “Those doing well generally have less than $100,000 in revenue and fewer than 10 employees.” Companies like GameStop, Gap, J.C. Penney, and Nordstrom have closed their Facebook stores because their consumers are more accustomed to “the richer experience on retailing Web sites,” according to Mulpuru.
Part of the allure of Facebook, is its easy access and free promotion. Small business owners can open a Facebook account in the business’s name, and then add photos of products and promotions. Facebook also has additional shopping functions. Pages can be customized with different applications that allow visiting customers to not only purchase but also enter in contests or view menus.
Facebook also allows customers to really get a sense of the business’s own personality. Small business owners know the importance of building personal relationships with customers and showing one’s personality is part of that relationship. Wendy Tan-White, the chief executive of Moonfruit, which assists in building and supporting e-commerce Web sites, suggests utilizing images for a Facebook page that relate to the customer as well as the business’s product and service.
Small businesses that utilize Facebook have found that being active with posts, updates, and photos have attracted more friends and fans. Tagging customers in photos also draws in not only that particular customer, but his or her friends who may also view the picture. This allows Facebook to become a real tool in focusing on the community, as a whole, and building a small business that has roots within that community. Co-owner of The Baby Grocery Store, Darren Gann, says that 35% of his sales are from Facebook. His customers also write on his wall for advice and tips which he gladly shares like “what do we recommend for a gluten-free 9-month-old.”
Facebook can be utilized in a multitude of ways and small businesses are working to make the social media company work for them. Many companies are also working hard to assist small businesses on Facebook and other social media outlets. One such company is SuperMedia, whose SocialEze product recently won a 2012 Industry Excellence Award in the category of “Excellence in Social Marketing by a Publisher or Agency.”
Zimmerman, Eilene. “Small Retailers Open Up Storefronts on Facebook Pages.” Small Business Guide, Business Day. The New York Times. 7/25/2012. (7/26/2012). http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/26/business/smallbusiness/small-businesses-win-customers-on-facebook.html?_r=1&ref=smallbusiness