Facebook Updates the ‘Status’ of E-Commerce

Online commerce is nothing new; for some time now retailers have made it possible to buy products and services directly from their dot com websites. But now Facebook has taken e-retail to a new level.

Where the expectations for brands was once hosting a mere fan page, the social network has upped the marketing ante— enabling brands like Delta Air Lines, 1-800-Flowers.com, and Pizza Hut to sell products directly to users from their respective Facebook pages. And given the high user engagement on the network, piping the product directly into user’s news feeds is a no-brainer.

But it’s not just about pushing products to shoppers online. Other companies are also finding ways to tap into the social-circles of Facebook users to leverage existing trust and credibility when it comes to peer recommendations. The latest internet giant to integrate Facebook’s e-commerce platform is Bing, Microsoft’s search engine answer to Google, with its new social shopping capabilities.

Now, when a user searches via Bing, where appropriate, results will feature a Facebook module listing said user’s friends who have “liked” items related to the search. Where shoppers were previously left searching for product recommendations online from anyone and everyone, now those same recommendations become more personal. Critics are no longer anonymous users on said trade blog, but now members from your inner circle of friends. Want to know what your circle of friends think about the new TV you’re interested in? Search in Bing and have them tell you right there. Bing’s vision of becoming the world’s first “decision engine” is fulfilled by leveraging Facebook’s existing equity in user’s network.

Another one to check out is TheFind, billed as the “world’s second largest shopping search engine.” In September, TheFind unveiled a similar integration with Facebook to provide a more personalized shopping experience. Now, “indirect recommendations” – in the form of “likes” and profile pictures – help TheFind shoppers form opinions about companies and products when they’re at the point-of-purchase online.

A wonderfully succinct quote from author and social media blogger Kyle Lacy, poignantly states,”Essentially shopping is a social experience. So why not take it to the ultimate social site?”

What do you think? Are Facebook storefronts and social commerce the future of shopping, or just another e-commerce experiment that won’t make it past the fad stage?

-Contributed by Erin Middelton