With the number of retailers opening Facebook stores or alligning their online strategy towards the social networking site increasing by the day, it begs the question, can we just set up business online and not worry about any other online channels?

Social networking expert, Gareth Mee, believes can and should extend their social commerce strategies beyond the the realms of the world’s most popular social networking site.

Social commerce has long been heralded as one of the major trends in ecommerce for 2011 and to the surprise of few experts, Facebook has positioned itself firmly in the driving seat of this phenomenon, but they cannot focus solely on Facebook as the be all and end all for social commerce.

Mee said : “2011 is already heralding the start of a new era of online shopping that is both social and collaborative. Purchasing decisions are increasingly influenced by trusted recommendations and brands are competing based on the value and experience offered on their website.

“As the use of social networks continues to become part of our everyday lifestyle, the ecommerce industry increasingly looks to this channel and how it can effectively capitalise on this opportunity. However, with increasing usage comes increasing noise and enabling social discovery with improved content relevance will be important to cut through this.”

He continued: “The move towards social commerce has intensified, with online retailer ASOS launching a full transactional Facebook shop in January 2011, allowing customers to buy from its whole range without leaving the social network. French Connection has also announced that it is following suit, however, perhaps retailers should step back and think their social commerce strategy through before putting all their eggs in Facebook’s basket.”

Mee and other leading industry experts all agree that it would be a mistake to avoid selling on Facebook, with the value to be had from using social networks evident for all major brands, the problem they agree is that retailers cannot solely rely on Facebook as the sum of their social commerce strategy.

Mee added : “Retailers should be looking to bring social elements into their own stores, combining social shopping baskets and personalised recommendations. A Global survey by Nielsen Online revealed that recommendations from person acquaintances are the most trusted form of advertising with 90% of consumers affirming their trust in this. Companies that sell online can differentiate themselves by developing their own communities, which leverage users existing social network connections. This would create a more personal and meaningful experience for customers aiding social discovery and improving the relevance of recommendations.”

Facebook has created an exiting opportunity for many retailers, one which a number have embraced and welcomed with open arms… however… increasing reliance on a third party which dictates prices and cut through is not a wise move.

Retailers all have a community of followers and loyal supporters who regularly shop with them, buy their products and recommend their products to friends and family. Mee believes these pre-existing communities can play a big part in the social commerce strategies they are developing.

Please note the views expressed in this blog are the views of the author, Andre Brown and do not represent the view of Locayta, its employees or its shareholders. For more information about Locayta, visit www.locayta.com