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F-commerce: Profitable or a Waste of Time?

Facebook is widely considered as the world’s largest social network, so unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, the company really needs no introduction. However, for the sake of better understanding the importance of the later portions of this article, let’s take a quick look at the company’s profile (forgive the pun).

The company was established in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg, and was initially designed to be an exclusive network for Harvard students. It was an instant hit and period of rapid growth soon followed. During such time, several offers were made to buy out the company. 2006, in particular, marked a significant milestone for Facebook. On this year, one of the biggest names on the internet, Yahoo, made an offer to buy the company for $1 billion not once, but twice! It was in rejecting the offers that Mark Zuckerberg earned notoriety as the “kid who turned down a billion dollars”.

By 2011, the social network could boast an active user-base of 400 million, with over 50% going online every day. It is mainly with these impressive figures that internet marketers, especially those that focused on social media marketing, turned their attention on the potential goldmine. In fact, by the same year there were already 3 million active pages on the site. Roughly 1.5 million, or half of these pages, were owned by local business owners.

Moreover, the social network has a user-base that extends to more than a hundred countries all over the world. In fact, 70% of Facebook users reside outside the United States, and the popular website is translated in over 70 languages.

Despite all this success though, the social network never really took a step in monetizing its operations until 2006, when it struck a deal with J.P. Morgan Chase to promote a product of theirs using banner ads. Nonetheless, this deal paled in comparison to Facebook’s biggest revenue model, Facebook Ads and Pages for Brands, which launched in the last quarter of 2007.

Later on, through much study and experimentation, social marketing experts found that users did not want to leave Facebook just to explore an externally-linked ad. In fact, a recent study by a reputable research company, Forrester, shows that only 1% of a typical site’s visitors come from a social media URL. Another study shows that e-mail marketing produces a click-through rate of 11% and a conversion rate of 4%, while Facebook only generates 1% and 2%, respectively. For internet marketers, this meant attempting to sell their products mainly through the Facebook platform alone, or to at least build a fan page to improve the brand’s positioning. The new social marketing channel is known today as F-Commerce.

F-commerce has been defined as the use of Facebook as a platform for facilitating and executing sales transactions. As an e-commerce marketing tool, it has had mixed reviews. Some claim that it has the potential to be lead internet marketing to new and exciting grounds. Its transactions were even predicted to supersede those of the internet giant, Amazon, within the next five years. That’s a revenue stream of approximately $34 billion!

On the other hand, there are also several studies discounting its effectiveness. A report in Bloomberg was even jokingly entitled “An ‘F’ for F-commerce?” Other studies claim that the positive reviews for F-commerce were outlandish and far-fetched. While the aforementioned Bloomberg report claims that F-commerce doesn’t work, some people might be inclined to disagree.

First off, let’s talk about, Wharton School of Business Professor, Stephen Hoch’s comment detailed in the report. Prof. Hoch says, “Whereas [brand] websites can categorize and organize social media, blogging and other engagement devices in a form that is easily navigated and searched, this is not true of Facebook, where all relevant postings are listed in a linear order based on time of posting. My guess is that Facebook is actively working on how brands can better link their brand pages to their [own] websites.”

A person marketing on Facebook will be quick to point out that the professor’s claim to a linear and chronological arrangement of posts is wrong. Facebook actually uses Edgerank, a system similar to Google’s acclaimed Pagerank system, to sort information based on relevancy. While we are definitely not discrediting Prof. Hoch’s proficiency in traditional marketing, it is fairly clear that he just misses the whole point of F-commerce. The marketing channel exists to keep users on Facebook. It is not there to encourage externally-linked ads. If it were so, they wouldn’t charge 45% less for clicks that keep users on the social network.

The Bloomberg report proceeds to quote, Forrester Research analyst, Sucharita Mulpuru saying, “But [selling on Facebook] was like trying to sell stuff to people while they’re hanging out with their friends at the bar.”

To that we simply say, “so what?” Throughout the years, businesses have been able to sell products to people while they are “hanging out with their friends at the bar.” Take hanging out at Disneyland for example. Sure you are there to have fun and relax, but at the end of the day, how much did you spend on memorabilia, food, and other purchases that were made on a whim? We could go on to discuss how people spend money while window shopping at the mall, watching popular sporting events, and attending concerts, but you probably got the point from the Disneyland example alone.

People trap themselves in Disneyland much like they trap themselves on Facebook. The consumer’s aren’t there to buy products, but they do so nonetheless.

The other facet of F-commerce is actually inserting your e-commerce store straight into facebook.  There are a number of services and software packages that can accomplish this goal.  The few clients of ours that have tried it have reported lackluster results.  They will point out, though, that they’re still making some sales; however, the costs of implementation plus monthly fees from the F-commerce software are currently wiping out any profits.

Like internet marketing once was, F-commerce is still an evolving marketing channel. Sure there are a few things that need some tweaking, but as long as it persists, it definitely has some great potential. The Bloomberg report condemned it right away. That’s where it went wrong. It is premature and much of the data that has been presented there might not apply a few years from now.

F-commerce enthusiasts just need to remember to stick to the basics and concentrate on the 4P’s of marketing. Price and product already need to exist before attempting F-commerce. The place needs to be Facebook, and much like any other e-commerce store, you need to follow some rules on customizing and utilizing the features of your page. Nonetheless, the most important P to remember in F-commerce is promotion. It isn’t as simple as posting daily status updates and shout-outs. Like any other traditional marketing effort, it needs to be innovative and immediately catch the reader’s attention. A marketer, especially an internet marketer, has the responsibility to be creative and brainstorm newer, better ideas.

Like any other e-commerce effort, F-commerce simply needs time, attention, and a healthy marketing budget for it to be effective.

Celebros and Redstage Networks Partner To Bring Cutting Edge Conversion Technologies to Magento E-Commerce Sites

Teaneck, NJ – May 25, 2012

Celebros Inc., the global leader in site search, navigation, merchandizing and conversion technologies, announced that it has entered into a partnership with Redstage Networks, an e-Commerce agency that specializes in Magento, to provide the ConversionPro V8 suite of Conversion Technologies to their Magento clients helping to dramatically increase conversion rates while providing a boost to the overall shopping experience.

Redstage Networks, a New Jersey based leading e-commerce solutions agency, specializes in working with the Magento eCommerce platform. Купите стразы в Москве. стразы, купить стразы в москве Стразы по доступным ценам. Having worked on over 150 Magento projects, Redstage is the most advanced and experienced agency in the industry.

At Redstage, were very passionate about delivering the right technologies to our clients, said Adam Morris, CEO of Redstage Networks. There are so many tools and systems available to businesses now. Our clients rely on us to have the knowledge and experience to make them a world class competitor. A brilliant system like ConversionProV8 that simultaneously improves user experience and instantly improves the bottom line is a no brainer for any Magento customer.

“Magento has provided the tools to developers and strategic industry partners to build the best e-Commerce platform and experience available. Our partnership with Redstage will enable merchants to realize untapped sources of revenue and empower their customers to find the products they want with ease using their own language,” said Ofer Alt, CEO of Celebros. “As a Magento Enterprise Partner, we’re focused on advancing this evolution and partnering with Redstage Networks. This will allow Celebros to rapidly grow and provide the ConversionPro V8 suite of Conversion Technologies to even more users of the Magento platform. The Celebros hosted Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution that makes a difference to hundreds of top online-shops globally, dramatically simplifies implementation and lowers the barriers to benefit from the cutting edge search and merchandising capabilities.”

“Site-search technology can affect the majority of a store’s traffic, making a critical impact on the store’s performance,” Roy Rubin, CEO and Founder of Magento said. “Celebros has further created the toolset for our Solution Partners to effectively integrate site-search with merchandizing, navigation, reviews, ratings, and other compelling content into a unique shopping experience.”

About Redstage Networks

Redstage Networks, a leading eCommerce solutions agency, specializes in working with the Magento eCommerce platform. They are a firm that operates by accomplished business and marketing professionals and backed by a team of creative and computer science gurus. Their passion is for their eCommerce sites to look beautiful and function flawlessly but also have exceptional conversion rates. Redstage Networks is truly enthusiastic about what they accomplish every day, and they enjoy working with clients that demand excellence and are equally passionate about their business. https://www.redstagenetworks.com

About Magento

Magento is the fastest growing eCommerce platform with over 225 solution providers, 100,000 merchants and brands worldwide and a host of Industry Partners that create applications and extensions for the Magento platform. Magento is a feature-rich, professional Open Source eCommerce platform solution that offers merchants complete flexibility and control over the presentation, content, and functionality of their online channel. Based in Los Angeles, Magento is a fast-paced, entrepreneurial organization dedicated to the mission of enabling the eCommerce ecosystem. https://www.magentocommerce.com

About Celebros

Celebros, Inc. is the global leader in e-Commerce site-search, merchandizing and conversion technologies for online retailers. Celebros revolutionized e-Commerce by creating intelligent, concept-based search for online retailers. Since that time, Celebros has emerged as the industry leader in conversion technologies, developing a patented cutting edge search solution that employs the most advanced Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology available. Celebros is the only provider of conversion technologies that is available in seven languages. Celebros customers include over 400 e-Commerce retailers and merchants in eleven countries, including the United States, Europe and Asia. A number of these are among Internet Retailers Top 100/500 companies. The privately held Celebros is headquartered in northern New Jersey, with offices in California, Israel, London, Munich and Paris. For more information, please visit https://www.celebros.com, follow Celebros on Twitter at https://twitter.com/celebrossearch or Like Us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Celebros/216298918455932

Why It’s Time to Get into Mobile Commerce (M-Commerce)

A little backstory…

A year or so ago I was telling clients NOT to invest in mobile websites.  Why?  Because there was no ROI in ecommerce from mobile development.  Sure, everyone’s been talking about mobile commerce as the greatest thing since sliced bread…for about 5 years now!  That’s great and all, but the money just wasn’t there for anyone but the top 50 brands.

That’s all changing…

m-commerce logo
“…we’re seeing some of our clients hitting 10% and up to almost 20% of their traffic from mobile devices. This is a drastic change from a year ago.”

The fact is that 87 percent of the world’s population now has mobile phone subscriptions. This brings the total to right around 5.9 billion people worldwide. This figure will only go higher in the foreseeable future considering that mobile phone sales are still on the rise. Android is growing at a rate of a staggering 886 percent per year, and activates 160,000 new mobile devices per day. In the US, with 9 out of 10 people owning mobile phones, individuals are more likely to own mobile phones than books! With these statistics alone, why wouldn’t e-commerce enthusiasts consider in investing in good quality mobile apps, or upgrading their website to be mobile-friendly? Well, the fact of the matter is that mobile ownership doesn’t necessarily mean that much if it doesn’t entail mobile internet usage.

According to The ITU, there are currently 1.2 billion mobile web users all throughout the world. In other words, 17 percent of humanity is accessing the internet through their mobile device! In relation to this study, Starcounter claims that these mobile web users account for 8.49 percent of website hits. In addition, most of these mobile web capable devices are smartphones.

rate of growth

Ok, let’s look more practically at the phones that will be widely used to make purchases: the smartphone.  At the current rate of growth, eMarketer estimates that smartphones in the US will number more than 115 million units by the end of 2012. Several studies agree that more than 50 percent of these smartphone users will use the devices to make actual purchases, and a similar, albeit smaller, percentage will use these devices to help them make an informed decision while considering the purchase of an item.

To add some real world experience, we’re seeing some of our clients hitting 10% and up to almost 20% of their traffic from mobile devices.  This is a drastic change from a year ago.

E-commerce on mobile devices most commonly takes two forms. The first, mobile applications, apps for short, are typically very company controlled. The developer often uses the app to create memorable customer reactions like games. Applications however, also typically have a shorter lifespan when compared to the alternative form of m-commerce, the mobile website. Mobile websites basically make the developer’s traditional website mobile friendly. This form of m-commerce is mostly used by e-commerce retailers, since this form offers more transactional abilities than mobile apps. To make the deal of investing in m-commerce opportunities even more appealing, a study by Mobile Commerce Daily claims that 41 percent of e-commerce merchants using the mobile platform have seen positive returns on their investment. Moreover, this number is even likelier to grow, considering that 32 percent of the percent measured didn’t even look into the return of their investment.

Entrepreneurs interested in utilizing m-commerce for their businesses, should consider a few things to insure a return on their investment in mobile devices.

M-commerce and e-commerce are similar in a very fundamental way. A good measuring point for the effectiveness of both approaches is to measure the traffic and time spent on a website. Even if the customers are not making actual purchases on their mobile devices, this doesn’t mean that the company doesn’t get any benefits from their visiting the website. Getting attention is also a part of effective marketing. The fact that the market knows a company even exists is already a relatively positive step in terms of marketing. However, if you are utilizing m-commerce and want to improve your interface to make the customer’s experience all the more pleasant to improve his retention and opinion of the company, simplicity is still the key. Studies show that m-commerce shoppers are more directed and have little patience for complexity. How much is the product? Does the company offer free shipping? Are there any product bundle deals? When they go online to check on a product or service m-commerce shoppers want to know the prime considerations for their purchase as quickly as possible.

m-commerce

Every merchant should consider all their options for marketing and distribution. M-commerce is simply one of them. However, according to the statistics, m-commerce will also be one marketing and distribution outlet that will definitely show massive growth in future markets. Take advantage of all marketing options available, be they digital or physical!