EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 352 - February 02, 2014 - ISSN 1528-6703     17 of 18

Sellers Choice 2014 Marketplace Ratings: Facebook

By Ina & David Steiner

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In January 2014, EcommerceBytes surveyed over 12,000 online sellers and asked them to rate the marketplaces on which they had experience selling. An introduction to the Sellers Choice survey along with a summary of the overall ratings can be found here, along with links to results for each of the 16 online marketplaces included in the survey.


Profitability:

Customer Service:

Communication:

Ease of Use:

Would you recommend:

Facebook
Year Established: 2004
Description: General social networking site
More Info

Summary:
For the first time, we opened up Sellers Choice nominations to social networking platforms to see if sellers were using them as an ecommerce channel. Facebook and Pinterest (but not Twitter) received enough nominations from readers to make it into the final 16.

Various developers and merchants have built ecommerce tools and apps to create storefronts on Facebook, the majority of which still send shoppers to another site to complete the transaction (Payvment, acquired by Ecwid, being a notable exception).

Nevertheless, many respondents use Facebook as a marketing vehicle but have difficulty tracking the results of their efforts.

Facebook's own early efforts in ecommerce included a classifieds feature that was unsuccessful, and it now concentrates on offering paid advertising. And that's frustrating to many sellers who found the only way to effectively sell is to pay for advertising. "Easy to show off product but only paid ads get wide circulation," wrote one seller. In fact, Facebook added a new "Shop Now" button for paid advertisements.

Some sellers do have some success either through their own group ("I refuse to buy FB ads so my biz page has suffered greatly. But I still make some sales and am, overall, fairly happy"), or through community groups. These can include local "yard sale" groups or themed groups - see this Facebook group, for example.

However, many sellers don't see Facebook as a viable channel. "Facebook is a disaster as a selling site. It is a social site and not a selling site. Use it if you want to socialize with friends but a waste if you expect serious sales and serious buyers." Another wrote, "It is extremely difficult to actually "sell" on Facebook! I've had a few sales, but there are no guidelines to actually MAKE a person pay the invoice if you DO sell!"

Like Pinterest, many sellers use Facebook to drive traffic to product listings on other platforms. "Mostly I use my Facebook business page to drive folks to the website," said one, while another said, "I don't really look at Facebook as selling venue but more for advertising and letting friends know about your products."

Others note recent changes that make even self-promotion more challenging. "Facebook has gone to pay to play and even then you are not visible. They have gone the big box store way which is putting the social aspect of the site in second place. I am really getting tired of Facebook."

Another wrote, "Facebook needs to stick to social interaction. They're better at that than they are as a marketplace for retail."

Facebook received a 4.49 for Ease of Use, a 3.54 for Customer Service, a 3.52 for Communication, and a 3.93 for Profitability. It received a 4 from sellers when asked, "How likely are you to recommend Facebook as a selling venue to a friend or colleague?"

Reader Comments:The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

After five years of trying to make a mark for my clients and my own business on Facebook, all I can say is all that "sells" is something being given away for free such as the download of a coupon or app for mobile phone. Otherwise, this is not a selling tool and it will never be one. The fear factor of not being there is the only reason people create business pages.

Facebook is great as a social network but you have to jump through too many hoops to sell on Facebook.

I enjoy using Facebook as a means to advertise items for sale but the app available for selling items has much to be desired. It seems more like an after thought and not a full-fledged selling venue.

Very much do it yourself and hard to tell the actual amount of direct sales or flow through people to ones store.

I use Facebook for promotion very successfully. I do not sell through Facebook.

Far too much time is required for far too little return. You really cannot cast a broad net there without a lot of time/work. Not worth it. But then, I've never really liked FB.

Any more Facebook wants to charge you for everything. You can't hardly get anyone to see your posts if you don't want to pay for it.

Facebook is horrible when it comes to selling. Except for some local groups, I haven't sold a single thing there. What customer service? And as for ease of use, unless you pay big $$, your page isn't being seen by 1/10 of your followers. It's a waste.

It is extremely difficult to actually "sell" on Facebook! I've had a few sales, but there are no guidelines to actually MAKE a person pay the invoice if you DO sell! I've been trying for 2 months now to list something in one group....am still waiting for it to open up to "newbies"! But the owner of that group doesn't have a problem putting up ALL of her items (supplies mainly) that SHE wants to sell! UNFAIR in my book! The main reason I use FB is to advertise my stores and what I have because my Twitter account is hooked up to it. Or if I'm in an auction that I want others to come to! It's great for that too!

Not a good place to sell, Facebook charges you to boost sales.

Easy to show off product but only paid ads get wide circulation.

Most people complained about advertising my items on Facebook so I no longer promote or sell on Facebook.

I have never sold anything from Facebook. Very hard to get fans. Facebook isn't very good at communicating when it comes to asking questions. Always refers you to others that have asked similar questions. They've since decided to start charging for views for those that have higher traffic to their pages. So that wipes me out.

Facebook is a disaster as a selling site. It is a social site and not a selling site. Use it if you want to socialize with friends but a waste if you expect serious sales and serious buyers.

I have a business page set up on Facebook, but I haven't actually seen a vending page from Facebook itself. I have tried out third-party apps, though. I've also tried to let people know that they can contact me on Facebook to set up a sale, then complete the transaction through PayPal. I have not had any luck actually selling anything on Facebook, but it's not for lack of trying.

We have tried numerous things and I do not believe most users will buy on FB. They do however click on ads and cruise around your site with a 6% conversion rate. If that works for you go for it! I just think of FB like being at dinner with a friend when the waiter keeps on interrupting you to point out specials/options that might or might not interest you.

I sell via local Facebook groups. There is no customer service other than Facebook providing this venue. There is no direct communication from Facebook. As a home based seller of a varied assortment of items, with no need for shipping, SEO, keywords, promoting, etc. and no FEES, none of the other sites compare.

I have listed some items on FB but the only sales I had were from buyers that never followed through with their purchase.

The constant changes bug me. And I refuse to buy FB ads so my biz page has suffered greatly. But I still make some sales and am, overall, fairly happy.

Buggy. No support. Administration constantly changes the playing field; forces sellers to advertise even when followers request your status in their stream.

I do not regard Facebook as a true selling venue as there is no e-commerce integration - I do post listed items to Facebook but it can only work by directing the customer to my eBid shop where they are able to purchase.

Facebooks policies are making visibility almost non-existent. All promotions have to be paid for to get any results., Even for Fan pages that have no promotional content on them. Use it for fun, or as a blog, but good luck getting any sales from it.

Unless you pay for ADs- no one sees one's items anymore unless you already had a following of over 20,000.

I've sold a couple of items long ago but haven't done it recently. But I'm still thinking of selling my coffee on FB only.

I actually haven't sold on Facebook as a venue, though I have had some folks buy directly thru me there instead of going thru one of my shops (they contact me via PMs.) Mostly I use my Facebook business page to drive folks to the website.

I don't really look at Facebook as selling venue but more for advertising and letting friends know about your products.

Customers on mobile devices cannot access your online shop on Facebook; huge problem that needs to be changed.

I have used an app to populate Facebook with my inventory and have NEVER had a sale come through Facebook.

Facebook now doesn't even let your BUSINESS page's status updates be seen by anyone unless you pay to promote these posts. If I could afford to promote on Facebook, I'd use that money to advertise ANOTHER venue somewhere else - not on Facebook. And I'm not aware of any customer service on Facebook.

Facebook is a social calamity. Not useful for promotion or selling since it implemented changes to how/when posts are distributed. I rarely use the site for anything anymore. It's more useful for politics/news than products.

Facebook has gone to pay to play and even then you are not visible. They have gone the big box store way which is putting the social aspect of the site in second place. I am really getting tired of Facebook.

Facebook needs to stick to social interaction. They're better at that than they are as a marketplace for retail.

I've run a few Facebook ads and boosted a few posts and the results were negligible - I suppose that if dug in and went through some sort of "class" to learn how to really promote on Facebook, I would give them other go but for now, I'm not going to do anything there.

I find this site very confusing. Only made a handful of sales there. Not really sure how to effectively use it.

It's better as a promotional tool. I have gotten sales by posting, but I don't post prices on Facebook. I only do that through direct contact.

I listed stuff occasionally but have had no direct sales. Actually I don't think I have had a sale that was even remotely connected with Facebook. My conclusion about Facebook is that it is primarily an ego site, people posting and talking about themselves but no one else is listening. Total waste of time.

I have not seen much of a selling venue except the classifieds (not much response from them and you can only have 8 a time free. I do appreciate the eBay connection.

Yes, I've set up a Facebook page for my websites... and at one time or another I've also tried a shopping app for the business pages. But, frankly, for me at least, I can't attribute any sales at all to Facebook. I've become increasingly disenchanted with social venues as a sales opportunity. It seems to work for some people, so maybe I'm going about it all wrong. But there are only so many hours in a day. If I don't list items, people don't know I have those items for sale... so where to spend my time? Not socially promoting my stores.... but listing the items I want to sell on my websites. Maybe I'm just getting old and cranky??? LOL

Sellers Choice Awards:
We thank all readers who took the time to rate the marketplaces. If you have comments about the survey results or the survey itself, please feel free to post them in the EcommerceBytes Blog.


About the author:

Ina and David Steiner are publishers of EcommerceBytes.com and have been writing about ecommerce since 1999.


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