So British retail institution Marks & Spencer has jumped on the f-commerce train with a Fathers Day pop-up store on Facebook. No mean feat for a very traditional retailer founded in 1884 – that only started accepting credit cards in its 700 stores at the turn of the third millennium. But they do make Percy Pigs, the candy that has something of a cult following among UK digital agencies and start-ups.
So one cheer for actually doing it, setting up shop where customers spend most of their time online, and beating UK laggards to the party.
And a second cheer for creating a temporary ‘pop-up’ store, and doing so around a calendar event. This gives the M&S Fathers Day Facebook store a differentiated raison-d’etre with respect to its general e-commerce website.
Facebook is ideal for this kind of pop-up retail – Facebook stores are quick and simple to deploy, there’s no messing around in micro-site design hell, and they are timely, relevant and convenient to use – no messing around in micro-site user hell. This makes the M&S Fathers Day Facebook store far better, in our view, than the “factory outlet” store approach adopted by some retailers such as HMV and ASOS in the UK, selling everything that comes out of the factory, but with a store experience that is less than optimal (but perversely with no factory outlet pricing). Kudos M&S.
But no third cheer for M&S alas, because after selecting a pair of socks for your beloved father, you are cruelly pushed out of Facebook and catapulted away into the walled garden of the M&S website. Whilst the Marks & Spencer Facebook ‘shop’ is called a shop – it’s actually a promotional brochure catalogue linked to an external website. Nice, but it’s not a shop. If the advantage shopping on Facebook is convenience and social piping, then why throw people off your page?
Perhaps the M&S promotional catalogue for Fathers Day gifts on Facebook will be successful in driving traffic to their e-commerce site, but M&S may be missing a trick in forcing people to go elsewhere to buy. Oh and you can’t buy Percy Pigs.
And note to M&S – if you really want to see what f-commerce can do, set up a Percy Pig store on Facebook.
Licence. To. Print. Money.