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This is something that has been said frequently over the past few years: Direct Selling on Facebook does not work. Before we question this statement, let’s be clear what exactly it means. The key word is direct selling. This refers to the process of placing advertisements on Facebook that link directly to a sales page.

Recent statistics and their relevance

An analysis by iprospect in Australia has claimed that the click-through-rate (CTR) rates on banner ads have declined dramatically from approximately 10% down to a dismal 1% in the decade up to 2015. The CTR rates for Facebook ads are not much better.

The average CTR on Facebook varies by ad type, and are thought to be as low as 0.02% for website and right-hand column ads, and up to 3% for sponsored stories according to a 2014 blog post by AdStage. A Q2 2014 report, released by Nanigans, revealed some better results and trends. Their figures relate to direct response advertisers which are directly relevant to Facebook e-commerce sites.

Their Q2 2013 figure of 0.36% CTR represents a 146% year-on-year improvement on their Q2 2013 CTR rate of 0.14%. They contribute the improvement to the increased use of mobile ads. This makes sense, as they claim advertisers increased their allocation to mobile ads from 40% in 2013 to 56% in 2014. Facebook itself has announced that 59% of their ad revenue in Q1 2014 came from mobile ads.

These statistics become particularly relevant to the subject matter of this article. Apps integrated with e-commerce on mobile devices will significantly improve ad visibility on Facebook, particularly so when you recognise that some 70% of users access Facebook via a mobile device. What does this mean for businesses? You need to create and publish mobile-centric ads.

The major reason for the CTR performance is ad-blindness caused by information overload, and the fact the people do not come to Facebook to look at ads – they come there to socialise.

However, this does not mean that you cannot sell products and services on Facebook. You just need to be a bit more subtle in your approach.

Your e-commerce site inside Facebook

There are two main methods to manage sales on Facebook. One is native advertising, a method which is used to link a Facebook post to an e-commerce page, a blog post on Facebook, or an external website.

However, people come to Facebook to “facebook” and are reluctant to click through to an external site. The preferred solution is to do the promotion and selling inside Facebook, so you will then need to create interesting posts that motivate people to click through to your e-commerce site inside Faceook.

Use emotional triggers like curiosity, interests, and special offers to attract visitors to your e-commerce page. But before you embark on constructing an e-commerce page using one of the applications described in this article, there are a couple of requirements you need to consider.

E-commerce apps for Facebook

In choosing an e-commerce app, evaluate those that provide e-commerce analytics so you can measure results. Also avail yourself of any free trial offered, and be aware that some of the apps presented will integrate with e-commerce shops like Shopify and Magento, which saves you the trouble to upload product details again.

Before you survey the following list, presented in no particular order, you should create a list of e-commerce features that are essential for your working requirement.

Here are some issues you may wish to consider:

  • Payments options, including credit card processing, bank transfer facilities, and Paypal integration, as well acceptance of international currencies.
  • Integration with shipping carriers like UPS, DHL, FedEx, and Australia Post.
  • Integration with customer management systems based on platforms like WordPress and HTML/CSS.
  • Operating systems on which the app will work, e.g. HTML/CSS, and smartphone systems like iOS, Android, and others.
  • Transferring product and pricing lists from another e-commerce app in use.
  • Marketing tools like coupons and limited period options.
  • Free trial periods.
  • Pricing tiers and the number of products that can be listed within each tier.
  • Availability of shopfront templates.

Apps –  is a suitable app for first-time online merchants because of its ease-of-use and a range of useful features.

  • Seamless integration with Magento.
  • The ability to import products from Amazon, eBay, Etsy and Woo-Commerce, and an easy process for creating a shopfront from scratch.
  • Great marketing tools including coupon pop-up, exit pop-up, referring program with discount offers, group deals, and header space for a logo.
  • Integration with YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.
  • Coupon pop-up to offer specials.

Storefront Social –

This app is popular solution for setting up a storefront as a photo kiosk, or as a web-based solution for selling prints, photo books, and photographic accessories.

  • Works with self hosted shopping cart solutions like X-Cart, 3D Cart and OSCommerce.
  • Can connect with Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest.
  • Incorporates Google Base Feed, XML and RSS feed.
  • 7-day free trial.
  • Different pricing models enable users to list anywhere between 100 and 1,000 products.
  • Works with international currencies.
  • Interfaces with Google Base Feed and Yahoo Commerce Central.

Ecwid –

This is a good start-up application for people who needs to experiment with e-commerce. It offers a 7-day free trial in which time partners can each add up to 10 products each. If you like the app after this trial period, you can upgrade and add as many products as you like.

  • The higher priced plans enable you to manage a storefront from an iPhone app and also provide wholesale pricing tiers.
  • Works with a range of merchant CMS systems like WordPress and Joomla as well as plain HTML/CSS sites.
  • Integrates with shipping carriers like UPS, DHL, FedEx and Australia Post.
  • Your store will be hosted on the Amazon S3 digital cloud storage network.

Shopify Apps –

Shopify’s claim to fame is its ease-of-use and integration facilities.

  • Shopify provides over one hundred shopfront templates.
  • It offers credit card processing and a free card reader.
  • Unlimited product selection.
  • Discount codes at check-out.
  • It is a digital storefront and is delivered as a number of different apps, ranging from free to paid versions.
  • Central server hosting provide automatic backups to keep your data secure.
  • It has many third party add-ons. These include competitions, coupons, reviews and a help desk.

ShopTab –

This is an ideal e-commerce app for large inventories provided with affordable pricing options.

  • Choice of how many products to show on the storefront home page.
  • Various pricing plans which enable users to add anywhere between 500 to 5,000 products.
  • Can run multiple shopfronts via central dashboard.

Vendevor –

This is a smaller e-commerce solution which is easy to setup and integrate with Facebook within a few minutes.

  • Provides credit card processing, Paypal payments and bank transfer facility.
  • Hosted by the supplier – Vendevor.
  • Can only promote 3 variations of the same product, e.g. size, colour etc.
  • Unlike other apps, the higher price option offers coupon coding.

Beetailer –

A very popular e-commerce app for larger brands.

  • Integration with Magento, MagenttoGo, Amazon, Shopify and Presashop.
  • Can set up to include customer comments onto you store.
  • Users can also become fans by sharing their purchases on Twitter.
  • Free option with 30 products – paid option can store up to 2,000 products on five separate stores.
  • Optimisation service available by the vendor.

The choice you make regarding which e-commerce app you use for your social media strategy will depend entirely on your business’ needs. It is worth consulting with an expert in the industry for their insight into what site may be best for you.

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