Many ecommerce merchants are using Facebook to promote brand awareness, offer deals, and provide customer support. A surprising number are opening up actual online storefronts within Facebook. New service provider companies such as ShopIgniter and Milyoni are springing up to create selling spaces inside the social media site. According to GigaOm.com, thousands of retailers have already taken this new step into social media, including 150 major brands, including Apple's App Store, Bulgari, and Hallmark.
Clever pundits are referring to this next step in ecommerce as, "fCommerce." Jake Hird of econsultancy.com is extremely enthusiastic, given the vast size and reach of Facebook. He writes, "The sheer scale and weight that can potentially be leveraged through fCommerce is pretty exciting. Companies are already experimenting in this arena and the results are positive. By adding eCommerce functionality to Facebook, or even building an eCommerce platform into the site itself, I'm expecting to see a very real, very fast uptake amongst both consumers and retailers alike." On the other hand, a study conducted by respected consultancy firm, Forrester Research, puts a damper on the hype. "eBusiness professionals in retail collectively report little direct or indirect benefit from Facebook," says the firm in a recent report, "Will Facebook Ever Drive eCommerce?" The survey reports that aside from a few pockets of success, Facebook is not going to be a near-term driver of ecommerce sales.
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