For Ajinkya Alhat and Harshal Kolli, this mango season was special. The two friends, who found themselves with some extra time after exams decided to sell mangoes online. What were the options? You could set up an independent site, sell on a marketplace, or wait… go on Facebook and start selling.
In one season, the two managed to sell mangoes worth Rs 3 lakh through their Facebook store A Mango Affair. Where Ajinkya’s father, at whose farm the mangoes were grown, used to make Rs 50-60 for a dozen of Alphonso mangoes sold to local suppliers, the average selling price for a dozen on the Facebook store was Rs 300.
From a limited reach to local suppliers until last year, they shipped mangoes all over India and to other countries like Singapore.
Hundreds of small Indian brands have begun setting up stores on Facebook, a trend which is likely to pick up in the coming months. Pages like Roti Kapda Makaan and Anjul Bhandari ( Vivek & Anjul ) are other such examples.
“Marketplaces have their own terms, revenue share, UI/UX and other technological stuff is difficult and time consuming compared to Facebook,” says Alhat, who set up his store using the services provided by Sellmojo, a startup that helps sellers set up stores on Facebook.
Payment gateway integration, logistics, analytics and other back end operations are handled by the SellMojo.
“The concept of F-commerce seemed very appealing to us, creating our own page was a few minutes job. We were live before we could think,” said Alhat.
Small stores have already started selling on Facebook in the United States in a big way.
Aji Abraham the CEO of Ravox, a Facebook commerce platform that focuses on US customers says: “We see Facebook commerce as much better chance in markets like India. A large percentage of small to medium merchants do not have an ecommerce practice.”
Mumbai based SellMojo has more than 500 customers and is also a Facebook partner. Namit Potnis, co-founder of SellMojo advises that brands and retailers must not just push their product but also engage with users.
While there are no hard and fast rules, ideally, a brand must talk about its product only 20% of the time while rest of the time, it must talk about things that people care about, he says.
Facebook today is more than just a social media platform and networking site. With more than 80 million Facebook users in India, it offers a targeted way for brand owners to sell to their customers.
Inception of Facebook commerce
In 2009, 8thBridge, previously known as Alvenda, developed first Facebook store for 1-800-FLOWERS, an Internet and telephone based florist. Globally, the value of the F-commerce market is expected to touch $30 billion by 2015 as per a report.
Basically, Facebook Stores are of three types
- Faux Stores: No buying; only browsing
- Fan-Stores: Connecting brands to fans. Pop up stores or campaign stores etc.
- Full-Stores: Full web store facilities and experience inside Facebook.
F-Commerce is not about replicating your ecommerce portal
Retailers like Gap, department store chain such as JC Penny and Nordstrom all have open and shut their F-stores within a year. What went wrong? Apparently, replicating their e-commerce store on Facebook is not going to be enough.
Omnichannel Presence for Large Retailers
In case of large retailers and online portals its a way to have multiple front ends and more sales channels. Also, converting fans into customers is easier than acquiring a new audience who have no brand influence. After all it takes a long time for a brand to create, nurture and build a community on its fan page. Peer to peer sharing and recommendations are also one of the driving factors behind F-commerce.
You are more likely to buy something suggested by a friend. The social effect of Facebook makes it alluring for doing commerce. According to a report, there is a 4x probability of users conducting transactions inside Facebook, when referred by a friend.
It is just like how things work in the offline world. Like how we like shopping with friends at physical outlets.
Besides SellMojo and Ravox, companies like StoreYa, beetailer, Exprestore also help customers setup Facebook stores. If you are a brand with a loyal fan following on Facebook, it is perhaps time to turn the taps on and let Facebook make some money for you.