With the release of Messenger Platform v1.2, including a new “Buy Button” for Messenger, and the improvement of its enhanced CTAs, Facebook continues to build out the eCommerce capabilities of Pages, the Newsfeed, and now, Facebook Messenger.
Not long ago, the social media giant introduced enhanced call-to-action buttons for Facebook Pages and the Newsfeed, which eCommerce merchants could use to send Facebook’s users to their eCommerce store. But it’s in Facebook’s best interest to keep users within the Facebook ecosystem as long as possible, and that means letting them buy without clicking away to an external retailer’s site.
Facebook recently augmented its platform’s eCommerce capabilities so they integrate smoothly with the company’s other big push: mobile messaging.
When I’ve written about social media eCommerce in the past, I’ve expressed mixed feelings. On the one hand, eCommerce merchants benefit from Facebook’s massive user base, advertising clout, and a simple conversion process. On the other hand, as publishers have discovered, being overly reliant on a single platform has risks.
Until a couple of years ago, Facebook’s Pages were largely inert — they were great for directing social media users to a store’s web presence and for building an audience, but if users wanted to make a purchase, they had to leave Facebook and visit the merchant’s store.
With the introduction of the “Buy Now” button and other calls-to-action on Pages and in the Newsfeed, the potential of Facebook Pages changed enormously. Merchants can sell direct from Facebook with the minimum of clicks. Those capabilities have now been extended with the addition of a call-to-action that opens a conversation in Messenger.
Once in the Messenger app, customers can interact with a retailer’s bot and make a purchase with the “Buy Now” button. Facebook now offers eCommerce customers a seamless journey from a merchant’s Page to the Messenger app, and from there to a purchase with a couple of clicks.
With over a billion users, it’s exciting to see that Facebook’s ambitions for Messenger go well beyond the chat apps of old. It’s now a powerful eCommerce platform that allows merchants to sell direct to customers using an application that’s already a major part of their daily lives.
Nevertheless, I’d caution eCommerce retailers before they put too many eggs in Facebook’s basket. Facebook is becoming ever more impressive as a sales platform, but it’s a platform that will never be entirely under the control of retailers, unlike an owned asset such as a Magento store. Social eCommerce should be one part of a broad eCommerce strategy that leverages multiple sales channels, including a wholly-owned online storefront.