Good Read: Facebook Commerce Falls Flat

Facebook doesn’t see itself as a social network but as a social operating system. The simple theory to remember is CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s mantra that everything is better with friends. That’s why Facebook sees itself as far greater than a new-style portal but as the essential plumbing for the Web to go from a solitary experience to a social one. That should change how industries operate. Fair enough. There has been success in this approach, notably in the unprecedented growth of social gaming. E-commerce would appear just as ripe for transformation, considering shopping is a quintessentially social experience. Early results, however, aren’t encouraging. Ashley Lutz of Bloomberg reports that Facebook commerce experiments by retailers like Gap, J.C. Penney and Nordstrom have flopped.

Facebook, which this month filed for an initial public offering, has sought to be a top shopping destination for its 845 million members. The stores’ quick failure shows that the Menlo Park, California-based social network doesn’t drive commerce and casts doubt on its value for retailers, said Sucharita Mulpuru, an analyst at Forrester Research in Cambridge,Massachusetts. “There was a lot of anticipation that Facebook would turn into a new destination, a store, a place where people would shop,” Mulpuru said in a telephone interview. “But it was like trying to sell stuff to people while they’re hanging out with their friends at the bar.”

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