Facebook has been gradually expanding it’s call to action options, but the latest release might well be the most popular.
Currently in it’s testing phase, users can directly buy a product via one of Facebook’s suggested posts (paid ads) without even leaving the site. That’s right, they have introduced a “buy” button that is housed right on the ad itself. This feature will eventually be available both on desktop and mobile.
The new feature was announced July 17, 2014 in their blog post:
We’ve built this feature with privacy in mind, and have taken steps to help make the payment experience safe and secure. None of the credit or debit card information people share with Facebook when completing a transaction will be shared with other advertisers, and people can select whether or not they’d like to save payment information for future purchases.
The current test is limited to a few small and medium-sized businesses in the US. We’ll share more information as we gather feedback.
Will the buy button flop like Facebook Gifts?
Back in September of 2012, Facebook launched their “Gifts” to a small US based test group. This was based on its acquisition of the gifting app Karma. On the outside it looked like a cutesy online shop within Facebook for buying such gifts as chocolates, stuffed animals, wine and gift cards for friends on your list. Facebook would then post a “wrapped” gift to your friend’s wall that they could virtually open.
There were high hopes for Gifts, with the hope that there could be some serious coin made by having an “in” to data that Amazon did not. However, the gifting experience just didn’t take. Many of the gifts were dust collecting junk that people simply didn’t want to spend money on.
Facebook, sensing the glooming failure, scrambled to squeeze Gifts into it’s popular birthday calendar. Instead of the traditional “Happy Birthday to you!” wall post that many of us make, Facebook hawkishly attempted to push users to buy friends small gifts instead.
Facebook eventually ditched the crappy physical products altogether back in August of 2013, and placed all their chips on gift cards. They signed more gift card partnerships like iTunes, and also launched their own Omni-Gift Card that was sort of a catch all card that could be refilled with credit from several businesses such as Target and Outback.
Alas they still failed. The company even avoided talking about them in earnings reports and ceased any further product updates. The looming end happened earlier this year when Facebook blocked users from adding any further credit to the cumbersome Omni-Card.
Gifts stopped just days prior to the announcement of the new “buy” button. Coincidence? Yeah right!
Facebook is doing what it should have done all along and stick with with their strengths: advertising and traffic.
In with the new – future commerce
With Gifts out of the way, Facebook is now seemingly turning their focus on what they know works: holding the hands of businesses that sell to Facebook users. This comes with an array of major commerce products that are rolling out.
The buy button
It’s Facebook’s newest bell and whistle. As mentioned before the button will allow Facebook businesses publish Page posts and ads with show a Buy button. The shiny new button will allow the user to purchase a wide variety of relative items from these businesses without even leaving the Facebook platform. Hello – Easy Sales!
The Buy button gives Facebook the umpff to drive more sales to their ad buying businesses. This au courant feature should mean plenty of newfound revenue especially in the mobile realm, where users are easily annoyed with having to leave the app to complete a purchase.
Facebook has stated they aren’t currently taking a revenue share from the Buy button sales, but also states that they are “not disqualifying that option” in the future. Which we all know has the potential to become a pretty big revenue stream.
Autofill with facebook
This tool works similarly to “Amazon Checkout,” except the actually merchant processing stays in the clear. Businesses can use this app (mainly mobile) to allow thier customers to “Autofill with Facebook.” Instead of having to type in their credit card, billing address, and shipping address information, the button will auto-populate their billing info from their Facebook account into the business’s checkout flow.
Again, Facebook states they aren’t taking a cut of these purchases either, just yet. Instead they are most likely using the data obtained from the tools use. It let’s them know how much which users are spending and in what apps. It can take this a step further and connect this data on who clicked what ads to prove just how profitable the mobile app install is.
What does this mean for the future of ecommerce?
More people will become comfortable buying from their phones and making in-app purchases. And plastic credit cards could become a thing of the past as the card issuing side catches up with the buying side.
Out with the plastic and in with the digital age. Ralph Dangelmaier, CEO of BlueSnap, said it best:
If you think about, you get a credit cards, they send it to you in five days and then you enter into your phone. It seems silly. It makes more sense to have your card issued on your phone and then push it to the apps that you want. The issuing side will catch up by issuing virtual credit cards. That’s what’s coming over the next five years.
Buy buy gifts – hello Buy
Gifts may have flopped in a big way, but Facebook has so much data on who people are, what they desire, and what they actually buy that it has plenty of other ways to inject itself into ecommerce.
What do you think of the new Buy button? Yea or nay?