Facebook have announced plans for in-app purchases.

Internet shopping is rising in popularity and fashion brands are making a conscious effort to draw users to their online stores. We expect to visit sites like Asos, Topshop and Missguided when we want to browse for some new garments, but will we soon be visiting Facebook for this instead?

We use the social media site when we want to make connections, find events and share things that interest us. It seems the creators want more than this, as they are developing technology that would let us shop directly from their app.

In-app purchases.

Facebook Inc has announced they want us to shop for clothes and other products using our mobile phone.

The site is testing some ad features for in-site shopping. This is an attempt to move further into “e-commerce”; which is basically a business term for online purchases.

The features would be similar to what is on Facebook already, but clicking on ads would take us through a brand’s products without redirecting us to their site. Picture clicking on a boutique add and, rather than an annoying new tab popping up, the ad will expand.

Akin to eBay, there are plans for a “buy now” button and businesses on Facebook will be able to sell products for purchase directly. They also have plans for a new shopping page section that will feature a select group of sponsored businesses.

A gap in the market.

In-app buying isn’t very popular with us, because it’s slow and generally awkward. Researcher eMarketer found that mobile purchases account for just 2% of retail sales, which isn’t a very juicy amount. Facebook obviously see this as a gap in the market, and want to create features which make the process a bit more user friendly.

Emma Rodgers, Facebook’s head of product marketing for commerce, made a statement to Business of Fashion that said: “We’re looking to give people an easier way to find products that will be interesting to them on mobile.”

The move has potential to make some serious money for the social media site, but I am sceptical of its application. Fashion and social media have always had a reciprocal relationship, and using platforms like Instagram can be great coverage for a brand. However purchases, especially on mobile, are that step further, and I can’t envision its likeability.  

Social media and fashion?

Initially I saw this move as one which steps on the toes of fashion brands and boutiques, which are all competing and squirming for a place on the already saturated landscape. At second glance I see how a partnership with Facebook could cause a serious drive in sales and publicity for them. Without knowing the legalities or agreements between Facebook and their chosen businesses it’s hard to decide how slim of a deal this is for the fashion brands, but being featured on a 1.5 billion user strong social media site could do worse for your audience reach.

Business moves are often solely derived with a profit goal in mind, and this is no exception. Personally I doubt, especially for the foreseeable future, that I will be swayed from visiting the direct source for my clothes and I will remain a loyal clicker to my favourite websites. This is a great way to make fashion more accessible, but I worry about the pressure it puts on consumers who are already overloaded with signs telling them to make snap decisions; “buy now” being a prime example of this. On the back of the success of Villoid, which you can read more about here, Facebook are riding the wave that merges style with mobile based social media and if plans go ahead I’m sure we will all be waiting with baited breath to see whether it will sink or swim.