“And e-commerce will become increasingly important to Facebook as it builds its recently launched gifts business. The e-commerce plaform – which lets users send goods, like gifts cards and cookies to friends – poses a threat to Amazon especially, as Facebook adds more retail partners.” – Wall Street Journal, December 25, 2012.

Fact or fiction? Future or fancy? Facebook to open retail shops, Google is dabbling with eBay, and Amazon to follow suit? Does it sound too far fetched?

Possibly not. After all, what does every global retail brand seek to underpin its success?

  • A globally well known brand
  • Reach and capacity to grow new retail streams
  • A powerful database to communicate with both the individual and aggregations of individuals at any given time at any given location
  • Access to contemporary product, defined by range and catering to many different target groups
  • Large amounts of capital funding to finance store distribution networks.

As Facebook reaches its $US1 billion market capital value, where to from here? Does the lure of creating an ultimate retail brand beckon once countless apps have been developed by their creative lab, or acquisitions such as WhatsApp pass? Nearly 20 per cent of the time Americans spend on their smartphones is spent on Facebook, so you have a hugely captive and aware market. (Facebook has either spent up to $19 billion for WhatsApp, $1 billion for Instagram.)

Facebook has one billion users and growing – with such powerful impact on the social fabric of our society that we can only imagine that the Facebook version of an omni-channel retailer would reach a market and act as physical portals for many billions more.

The vast majority of shopping is done in physical stores and this will not significantly change, and while this might not look like the Facebook of today, it might possibly emerge as the Facebook of tomorrow.

This could even more directly apply to eBay as it develops tailored and segmented ranges – perhaps these organisations with all the right elements for a new innovation in retailing might just surprise us all.

Facebook special on footwear in aisle three?

First published by Inside Retail, May 2014