Facebook 'Buy' button to bridge social-eCommerce gap

Social media business Facebook has introduced a 'Buy' button that will allow its users to purchase products in adverts and other posts without leaving the site.

Testing the feature with a selection of small and medium-sized firms in the US, Facebook says that the aim is to help businesses drive sales through the social media site. Firms testing the button are not charged by Facebook, but the move could be a step towards the group creating more commercial partnerships with brands around the world.

Facebook said the feature has been built "with privacy in mind", and revealed that the credit and debit card information people share when completing a transaction will not be shared with other advertisers. Consumers will be asked whether they would like to save their payment information for future purchases during the transaction process.

Spencer Izard, head of European Retail Insights at IDC, called the move "a step in the right direction for the social network", but suggested it was not a replacement for a dedicated eCommerce solution for retailers.

"Enabling the connection between customer and seller to be one step closer through the buy button in Facebook is definitely a sound business step for the company, by keeping people longer in Facebook," he told Essential Retail.

"Also, the current form of the buy button is understandably targeted at the small and maybe medium retailer/seller. The inclusion of a buy button obviously provides benefits for impulse buying in a social context but in its current form is not scalable or appropriate for the business demands of a retailer who require full eCommerce platforms."

Meanwhile, micro-blogging site and fellow social media giant Twitter this week announced the acquisition of payments infrastructure start-up company CardSpring, which helps developers write applications that accept credit card payments.

It appears to be a move towards enabling Twitter to create real-time payments through its infrastructure, with the business describing its new ally as "a great fit with our philosophy regarding the best ways to bring in-the-moment commerce experiences to our users".

Commenting on the social media companies' respective payment announcements, Izard explained: "I do not believe that any retailer should see Facebook, or Twitter for that matter, as another channel alongside eCommerce.

"The ability to enable a consumer to see an advert, or information, and then impulse buy through the button is good way of bridging the contexts of social network and retail commerce paradigms."

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IDC Insights


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