All Over Again

30 06 2010

Deja vu is a very helpful navigational device. No matter if you have a map or GPS, in your mind you know that you have been here before, even if only in a dream. You recognize the scenery. The views. The people. The conversation. The highway.

Funny, but as we wrap up another term of Evolutionary Marketing, I can’t help but feel a little deja vu coming over me. You see, when I started this whole thing a dozen years ago, the Really Big Deal was those few websites that actually sold something. You know. Metaphoric shopping carts. “Add To Cart” buttons. “Check out” buttons. Get your credit card.

Because it is all happening again. As companies large and small have come to heed the call of Facebook by developing fan pages, a disturbing little reality set in. You can’t…um…really do a whole lot there other than chit chat and link back to your main website.

But the folks at The Onion, America’s great parody news source, has turned its Facebook page into a store.

Yep. Just land on their FB page and click the Shop tab. Instantly you are able to purchase things. Just like you would if you were on the main Onion site.

And that is simultaneously the beauty and the commercial imperative of it. As we have discussed so many times, Facebook is where the people are. Websites are old hat, and you still must have one. But if everyone is starting at FB, then you are probably losing a lot of customers. It would be like McDonald’s having this giant building for custoemrs to come in, marvel over the Happy Meal toys, meet Ronald, and smell the hamburgers cooking. But then have to drive down the street to actually buy one.

No sale.

So does this mean that FB is going to rapidly turn into one massive e-commerce, carts-a-ringing, ears cha-chinging e-commerce site?

You betcha.

Because they have to. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, and you, I and everyone else are wearing Milk Bone underwear. To not offer merchandise is really just one big tease.

And that won’t pay the lease.

Of course, FB stands to profit handsomely from this. Their ad revenues are said to be pushing $1 billion as it is. Imagine now if they take a portion of every sale as a commission for allowing the little e-commerce app to run? Yeah, one more reason to watch for the IPO. This baby is going to soar.

You can count on this, though: FB co-founder Mark Zuckerberg never really quite saw the far-reaching implications of his little dorm room baby. It was really all about meeting girls at Harvard. Now the fastest-growing demo is 50-something women, followed by other geezer age groups. And we (yes, I proudly acknowledge that I am part of the geezer demo) have money to spend. Adding shopping capabilities is the icing on the cake. Or a few more gallons of black ink on the income statement.

The only difference between this and a dream, is that we truly have been down this road before. I never could have dreamed this.

Dr “Continue Shopping” Gerlich


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