British retailers will get more out of Facebook in 2013 as they begin to understand how best to use the huge amount of data the social network provides, according to ecommerce giant Venda.
Venda, which works with a number of high profile fashion retailers including Jimmy Choo, Laura Ashley, Clothing at Tesco, Urban Outfitters and Superdrug, and processes more than £1 billion in transactions annually, is working alongside Facebook and a couple of partners to better monetise the data Facebook offers to retailers through its network.
Companies have long been sceptical about how they can make money out of appearing on social networking sites - particularly Facebook. In August 2012, the network was forced to admit that 88 million of its 955 million members were actually spam or fake accounts - causing its stock market price to spiral.
However, slowly data is emerging to suggest companies are getting more of a return from adopting sensible social media strategies - figures from events company Eventbrite showed in October 2012 that for every share of an Eventbrite event on Facebook in the UK, 22 of their friends and contacts click on the link, and on average, every individual share generates an additional £2.32, compared to £1.46 per retweet on Twitter.
But now that the dust has settled, Venda's chief executive Eric Abensur believes the time is right for retailers to learn to get the most out of the opportunity social networks provide.
"I'm pretty certain we'll see better social engagement with Facebook (by retailers) in 2013," he told the Huffington Post UK.
"Retailers' problem has always been how to engage with the data available. Two years ago, people's first reaction to being able to get on Facebook was 'I'll open a shop just on Facebook', but customers weren't going to Facebook to buy products, they went to Amazon or other well known ecommerce sites. Facebook was about having experiences and sharing them."
Abensur was reticent to give too much away before a further announcement on his progress, due next month, but as willing to disclose the most common mistake retailers are currently making when trying to use Facebook.
"When you create a new distribution channel, the worst thing you can do is to try and replicate the experience of the current main shopping channel for that user - that will fail," he said.
"For every channel you need to deliver the same brand values, and the shopper also needs to be recognised if they've already shopped with you on a different channel - for example, if I've purchased from you on my desktop, it'll be really irritating if you don't recognise me when I log in with my iPad.
"It's also about understanding how people react to your event or promotion and using that information to personalise the shopping experience next time; it's not just about trying to get your promotion or item across the network."
Abensur also predicted that shopping online would become a more entertaining and fun experience for customers.
"The British are extremely innovative at finding new ways of improving the user experience, better zooms on photos, slick videos, better product descriptions - so that they provide the customer with as much information as possible so they're not disappointed," he said.
There will also be greater integration between online and offline offerings, including more shops allowing you to use online vouchers in physical stores. Click and Collect services will also become more popular, Abensur predicted.