Practical Ecommerce

Facebook App Embeds Product Offers in News Feeds

Most users who currently shop on Facebook do it using applications, Facebook Marketplace, or by using Flash-based applets on Fan pages. But Facebook and Twitter have both demonstrated that the live feed of links, photos, videos, comments and replies is what they’re really interested in.

Sell on Facebook News Feeds

And one company, Alvenda, plans to capitalize on this. I spoke to Alvenda CEO Wade Gerten about his company’s new Facebook application, GiftFeed, that moves the point of sale to the news feed itself.

“We’re extending the shopping experience to use the social graph on and off of Facebook,” Gerten said. “The stores we launch on Fan pages are interesting, but people spend 99 percent of their Facebook time on their own home pages. We’re doing far more retail sales now on the user’s own Facebook home page. Merchants can push special offers out to their fans via the news feed and enable those customers to check out without ever leaving their home pages.”

Practical eCommerce showed screenshots of two of Alvenda’s clients’ Fan pages last week. Below is a screenshot from a 1-800-Flowers “virtual bouquet” I posted on a friend’s wall using GiftFeed. The Flash-based shoplet appeared on her wall and news feed, at which point she could use it to make an actual purchase, filling in her credit card and shipping information on the secure shoplet without leaving her own profile page. Here the Fan page only facilitated the potential transaction—there was no need for her to actually navigate there to see it.

Screenshot of a 1-800-Flowers virtual bouquet.

Screenshot of a 1-800-Flowers virtual bouquet.

“Offline, shopping is often a social event,” Gerten said. “For the first time, we’re making online shopping social. If you can make shopping fun, social, and part of the user’s environment, you’ll sell a lot more.”

Flash Is More Secure

Gerten did address some of the problems inherent in using a Flash-based solution, especially for mobile, but stressed the importance of security when processing payments on a social media site.

“The challenge of not running your stores in Flash is that Facebook commerce wouldn’t be secure. Users connect to their Facebook home pages over http not https,” Gerten said. “A traditional ecommerce storefront running on Facebook cannot encrypt your credit card number like a Flash object can.”

Brendan Gibbons

Brendan Gibbons

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  1. Eugene April 30, 2010 Reply