Facebook has become such a monumental part of American society that just about every small business owner and marketer has tried to think of a way to use the platform to increase their sales. For the lion’s share of companies, Facebook marketing has largely been about referral traffic. Retailers post items on Facebook on the hope that people will follow back to the website. This method is effective, per se, but people undoubtedly fall out of the sales funnel when they have to leave Facebook to visit a different site or when there is too long of a gap from the initial response that made the viewer want to buy the item and the time it takes to complete the transaction. Retailers don’t have to accept this reduced effectiveness as the cost of doing business on social media, several apps exist that make it possible to sell items directly from the Facebook platform.
ShopTab is one of the more popular apps for Facebook retail. The app creates a miniature e-commerce site in one of the tabs of a Facebook profile. ShopTab has been used to create Facebook stores for Coca-Cola, Radiohead, and the Buffalo Bills. The store fronts are highly customizable and can even be used to post product images to Twitter and Pinterest. So besides being a part of an ecommerce strategy, ShopTab can be used as part of a broader social media marketing strategy.
ShopTab also has the benefit of integrating with a lot of products that small business owners may already use for ecommerce. ShopTab can connect with PayPal Partners, Amazon Webstore users, eBay’s Prostores, Shopatron and more. The pricing is also very reasonable. Prices start at $10 a month for store with up to 500 items and go to $20 for stores with 5,000 items (it’s $5 more per month for each additional block of 5,000 items).
Beetailer is another popular shopping app that works by creating a store within a tab on Facebook. Beetailer has more robust features than ShopTab and has been used by MTV, Jersey Shore, Red Bull, Angry Birds, Nirvana, Logitech and other large companies in creating their Facebook ecommerce solution. One benefit of using Beetailer is that it integrates with a website and does much of the migration work for the user. There is also more functionality between Facebook, the app, and main ecommerce site. For example, comments about an item that are made on the Facebook page will populate when people search the item on the website. This is a tremendous value to retailers because these comments are often deciding factors for internet shoppers.
The pricing of Beetailer is good for small business owners. Besides the 30-day free trial, small business owners can use the app for free for stores with fewer than 30 products. However, past this threshold, Beetailer is far more expensive than ShopTab. A 500-item store is $50 per month. A 2,000 item store is $100 per month. And a store with 10,000 items is whopping $300 a month. Despite the price tag, the features on Beetailer make it an ideal choice for retailers who want to do advanced campaigning on their Facebook store.
The first two apps worked by creating a store on a Facebook tab, but that creates problems for mobile users. An app called Soldsie makes it possible for retailers to initiate a sale directly from their timeline (sort of). The way the app works, the retailer posts product images and prices on their timeline. Viewers, who connect to the app, can write “Sold” in the comments and then they are sent a PayPal invoice to handle the ecommerce transaction.
While Soldsie does make it possible to sell items directly from the Facebook timeline, it requires so many steps, and unusual methods, that it may put off more customers than it attracts. Fortunately, Soldsie is free to use for the first $700 in sales so retailers can see how well it works before they spend money. However, afterwards, it costs a percentage of every sale so it can quickly become more expensive if it’s effective.
Each of these apps has it’s own advantages and disadvantages in the form of function or price, but it the fact remains that they are changing the way the retailers use social media to advance their business. With 71 percent of the US adult population on social media, it’s worth it for retailers to try out of the box approaches if it lets them capitalize on their social network.