The future of f-commerce; Bejeweled, Levi’s and P&G lead the way

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Whilst many brands have still to digest the difficult-to-underestimate implications of new Facebook initiatives announced last week at f8 (widely seen as Facebook’s Google Moment, amounting to nothing less to an audacious bid to takeover the Web by becoming the social glue that binds the web together by rolling out Facebook social plumbing across the entire Web (through social plugins, portable social graph (Open Graph), single sign on/up (using OAuth 2.0), social analytics and a new virtual currency)), some brands been quick off the mark with new f-commerce initiatives using the new technology.

Fashion brand Levi’s has just launched an elegant Facebook-powered social shopping feature called Friends Store that uses Facebook’s new social plugins – notably the ‘Like’ button (taking a cue from YouTube).

In a nutshell, the ‘Friends Store’ on Levi’s e-commerce showcases only products recommended by Facebook friends, and allows you to invite friends to co-browse the store. It’s like Pandora for Fashion, providing personalized recommendations from people you like and people like you.

Meanwhile, Procter & Gamble has been working with Resource Interactive, who recently set up a Facebook ‘Wall Store’ for fashion brand The Limited, and has added a Shop Now Tab and Facebook Wall Store for new-yet-to-be-found-in-store Pantene products.  This is an novel and natural role for CPG f-commerce, using Facebook as a ‘tryvertising‘ tool – paid-for sampling designed to create word of mouth for new products. Expect more brands to follow where P&G f-commerce treads.

Finally, video game company PopCap, maker of the ubiquitous Bejeweled game, has been beta-testing the Facebook Credits virtual currency, and using it as the sole payment method for the Facebook variant of the game – Bejeweled Blitz (Facebook take an App store style 30% commission on items purchased with F-Credits).  The FT reports that Facebook’s new Open Graph protocol could be the plumbing needed for Facebook Credits to become the dominant virtual currency on the Web, and for Facebook to become a global virtual bank.

Working like a pre-pay cell phone/debit card account, Facebook Credits avoid all the tedious messing around with credit card authorizations for each and every transaction – and advantage for shopper and vendor.  And for Facebook, member account balances will be valuable ;-) .  For brands and retailers, allowing customers to pay for digital and real goods with F-Credits within Facebook and on e-commerce website may boost sales by making the purchase experience smoother and more open to impulse buys.

Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, emphasized that creating a payment system secure and stable enough to cope with more than 400m+ members will take time and investment.  Nevertheless, F-Credits are now set to become part of fabric of e-commerce, and so future-proofing your e-commerce strategy will involve addressing this new online currency.

Warren Knight thanks


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