The new feature will allow users to purchase items without ever leaving Facebook, and perhaps alludes to the broader future of e-commerce.
Facebook is trying out a "Buy" button that will let users make purchases from ads and companies' Pages, all without leaving Facebook's platform. Customers also have the option to store their payment information, which eliminates two big conversion hurdles: getting a customer to the checkout screen and having them enter their credit card number.
Though Facebook won't disclose many details, the new feature has a handful of guinea pigs. They're all smaller businesses, such as Modify Watches, a 4-year-old San Francisco start-up that offers customizable timepieces. For now, Facebook isn't charging these companies to test the feature, though monetizing the transactions in the future isn't out of the question.
"I think [the Buy button is] good for Facebook, it's good for brands, and it's good for marketers. The question is, will it be good for consumers?" asks Bob Cargill, social media director at Overdrive Interactive.
Although Facebook says the Buy button is as secure as possible, Cargill thinks privacy may be a hurdle.
But while some people might think the feature allows businesses to intrude on their social community, Cargill points out they may not feel that way if they are engaging with the brands they already follow on Facebook.
"You want to buy from someone you like, someone you're comfortable with, and that's what social has allowed brands to do," he says.
Social media and shopping have become more and more intertwined of late. In May, Twitter launched a new feature allowing tweeters to add items to their Amazon shopping cart using a hashtag.
And this isn't Facebook's first foray into the e-commerce sector. Two years ago, the platform launched Collections, a Pinterest-meets-Amazon feature which allowed businesses to add "Want" and "Collect" buttons to posts about products. These saved to users' Wishlists, which hosted a Buy button that directed users to the retailer’s website.
Cargill believes the introduction of Facebook's new Buy button points to social commerce eventually becoming the norm.
"First, it was getting people on social. Then it was building a community, getting them comfortable sharing their information, and now they're doing business with them," he says. "It's a natural cycle that's taken place. Commerce was inevitable."
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Before joining the ClickZ team, Mike O'Brien was a reporter for newspapers in Brooklyn and Eugene, Oregon, where he earned a Master's degree in journalism from the University of Oregon. Having also worked in newspaper sales, Mike enjoys writing about marketing and advertising much more than selling it.
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