Bringing nopCommerce closer to Facebook?

We have long thought about creating a nopCommerce plugin, which would automatically create a Facebook shop out of your nopCommerce online store. And I got to tell you, we like the idea a lot! But developers like to create stuff for the sake of creating it and watching it work. Fortunately as a nopCommerce extensions vendor we have to go beyond this and make sure that before we develop it, a nopCommerce plugin would have real value to nopCommerce retailers. So we did some research on the subject of social and particularly Facebook commerce and were quite surprised to find out what we have to share with you next.

Although F-Commerce is considered one of the major e-commerce trends for the foreseeable future, it seems that Facebook might be losing on the e-commerce space after all. The previous year saw major retailers like Gap, Nordstorm, J.C. Penny, Gamestop close their Facebook shops, despite some of them having 3.5 million fans on their Facebook pages. So is the push for Facebook commerce too much too soon and howcome major brands were not able to leverage the social network to entice their millions of fans to buy on it.

Despite loving the idea of our nopCommerce Facebook shop plugin we started to suspect that a Facebook shop integration might not be what would bring nopCommerce closer to Facebook after all. How could this be?

Facebook was never designed for people to search and find products they might be interested in. It was designed for personal interaction. So having a Facebook shop as Forrester Research Analyst Sucharita Mulpuru put it: "it was like trying to sell stuff to people while they are hanging out with their friends at the bar." If you could segment friends on Facebook or posts by your interests then you could subscribe to feeds that will recommend products to you and for example follow fashion trends that you like. But at the moment this is impossible without all this being mixed up with day-to-day stuff expressed in photos, status updates, comments, etc.

Facebook was designed with social in mind but even as such its design and user experience is simply horrible. Despite using it for years, I myself can never navigate through it confidently as I might do with other web applications that I have used for only 5 minutes. Imagine trying to find a product and shop for it. With this huge over-complicated mess one might give it up before even starting.

And even if people decided to give a Facebook shop a go, they would still be shopping on an online store that just emulates the brand's regular e-shop. Why would they want to browser products and checkout withing Facebook when they can in reality do this on the official web store, which would most probably have a much better navigation, more features and ease of use?

Last but not least think about all the privacy implications of shopping on Facebook. Would you bestow your shopping preferences and history on a network that already knows too much about you and in quite a few cases has not been so kind as to keep it private? Would you trust them not to share your shopping habits with retailers and advertisers?

So while we have not given up on our idea to automate nopCommerce with Facebook to the benefit of the store owners, we are quite uncertain that a Facebook shop is the way to go. This leads us to the more general question of how Facebook should be leveraged by an online store in order to reach a wider audience and increase sales? Obvious answers is a fan page. But didn't you hear it? Your fan page posts are now being silenced. Only 10% of your audience are being shown to your posts.

One thing is for sure. There is no easy answer to our conundrum. While we try to figure it out your comments and suggestions are more than welcomed. Of course stick with us to find out more on the subject and mostly what ideas and plugins we come up with for integrating nopCommerce with Facebook.