Last Wednesday at PayPal’s innovation conference, Ebay unveiled a partnership with Facebook to integrate new social features in its e-commerce platforms, resulting in two new buttons for the customer to express its relationship to products and brands.

Up to now, Facebook offered a single way for users to express their connexion with a brand or a product, namely the “Like” button. Facebook's traditional “Like” button does not allow brands to make the difference between a loyal customer, someone looking for a rebate for a future purchase or a simple fan. Consequently, the marketing value of a “Like” is pretty difficult to measure and is somehow limited in terms of targeting strategies. Now, developers and e-commerce platforms relying on Ebay’s solutions will have the opportunity to add two new buttons to the products they are selling online: “Own” and “Want”. Similar to the “Like” button, those new features will allow users to express their relation to products and brands - on the social network - with much more accuracy.

New marketing opportunities

This partnership fore runs a new era of digital marketing that will enable online merchants to tighten the bonds with their social audience, to follow customers’ purchasing history and to increase the relevancy of targeted advertising. For instance, a sports equipment store knowing that a Facebook user owns a tennis racquet and wants tennis shoes will be able to push a targeted ad through the social network, with a much higher conversion probability. But the appeal of those new features for e-merchants goes beyond cross-selling opportunities since the increased capabilities for sharing about products on Facebook will also drive back a lot of traffic to online stores.

Towards a social search engine for online shopping?

“I think we are at an inflection point”,  Ebay CEO John Donahoe said to expresse his feeling about the upcoming revolution in the e-commerce world. With online shopping merging with the social sphere, Facebook users and online buyers are going to have a direct access to their community’s commercial behavior. This will certainly have a deep impact on the way people go through the buying process, how they identify their needs, benchmark, purchase and review products online. In the new paradigm, e-buyers may less rely on traditional search engines to shop online than on social search engines taking into account their trusted community’s opinion.

By Fabien Punin