The Buy button — Facebook’s next big thing?

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Facebook is testing a way for advertisers to make the direct sales pitch to people, and it could be a game-changer for advertisers and retailers. Through the Buy button, users can complete a transaction while staying in Facebook.

Marketers are already excited about the possibilities. Among the call to action buttons, the one closest to the bottom of the funnel has been Shop Now or Buy Now, prompting the user to finish a transaction on the external website. Even if someone doesn’t complete the transaction after clicking Buy, advertisers can know that the user is interested in making a purchase of that particular product, and they can target them with ads for that specific item.

Kevin Bobowski, the VP of Marketing at Facebook Preferred Marketing Developer Offerpop, feels that the Buy button shows how Facebook has evolved as an ad platform. He told Inside Facebook that users are gaining enough trust in the site to conduct purchases directly through Facebook:

Consumers in general today are much more comfortable with purchasing online. They’re much more confident in making those transactions. The adoption of these new features and capabilities are going to happen pretty quickly.

Facebook is testing the Buy button in beta with a few companies, but declined to say who outside of Modify Watches is currently using it.

Facebook has a way to purchase items (for others) while staying within the big blue box — Facebook Gifts. However, a Facebook spokesperson told Inside Facebook that the conversion flow will likely be different from that feature you use to buy someone a Starbucks gift card on their birthday:

It likely won’t be similar to Gifts; however, we are in the very early testing phases so what people see now likely won’t be what they see if/when we launch this.

The flow of purchasing is quite simple. After clicking Buy, users are shown a higher-quality image of the product in an overlay. If they choose to check out, there are just three more screens to go through: shipping information, payment information, check out. Though as Facebook notes, this process is in the early testing stages and could change.

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Rob Kischuk, the CEO and founder of PerfectPost, thinks that one of the biggest factors will be user comfort, but it could be key for retailers looking to drill down to the bottom of the funnel:

This is going to be an interesting test in conversion rates. Retailers are giving up a lot of control (retargeting, personalization, zooming in on photos) to shorten the conversion funnel. It will be interesting to see if consumers are ready to buy directly inside of Facebook after the massive flop of Facebook storefront apps several years ago.

Facebook has really been going all out to embrace direct marketing, which was a major question mark for them in the months after the company went public. This button will enable the entire purchasing process to take place within Facebook, taking away some of the friction. When a user clicks Shop Now or Buy Now, they’re led to another website (or sometimes on mobile, another app). Through the Buy button, someone could see the ad for the product, make the purchase, and be back to reading News Feed in a few minutes.

Bobowski also feels that the Buy button is really a way for Facebook to make more conversions on mobile:

It’s all about the mobile social consumer. We’ve all seen the stats about how often they check their phone. When they use their phone, they’re usually in social media. This is where consumers are. If consumers are on social and they’re on mobile, then the pathway to purchase needs to be optimized for that mobile social experience.

Readers: Do you think the Buy button will be enough to entice direct marketers?