P&G launches six new Facebook stores

has launched six new Facebook stores for its  Tide, Gillette, Olay, Gain, CoverGirl, Luvs and Febreze brands.

It follows the launch of a pilot store last year selling a mix of 29 P&G products, which it did in association with Amazon. Interesting move, but you have to wonder why it hasn’t tweaked its offer on Facebook to have some point of difference for fans.

This time around P&G has outsourced the e-commerce work not to Amazon, but to PFSWeb’s eStore. The stores, being dubbed “f-commerce” (does anyone like that?), is less about sales, and more about creating a “Live Learning Lab” for the business to learn about consumers, customer centricity and e-commerce, according to Social Commerce Today.

P&G spokeswoman Tonia Elrod states that the new Facebook stores will help P&G not only better understand consumers, but also provide the the business with experience-based accelerated learning about e-commerce. ”

Social-network selling is an extension of our overall focus on innovation and brand building… We expect testing commerce via social networks like Facebook will help us accelerate e-commerce growth as consumers buy more of our categories online,” Social Commerce Today reports.

The piece makes  a good point. You can maybe see why P&G want to try selling products on Facebook, but if you are a consumer are you really going to buying Tide or Fabreeze on Facebook? You know, just for the social networking thrill of it?

All of these products are available elsewhere be it specialist online retailers or some via online store of supermarkets like Wal-Mart? There doesn’t appear to be any raison d’être or incentive to buy directly from P&G’s Facebook stores other than the fact that you can buy that razor without ever having to leave Facebook.

Is convenience and trusting Facebook enough? I wouldn’t have thought so. SCT hits the nail on the head when it says that “simply replicating what’s available elsewhere on the web is not a viable f-commerce solution”.

The future of Facebook e-commerce has to be connected to brand loyalty (people like you as they’re fans, right? So give them something to come back for) and offering something different, be it one offs or Facebook extras has to be the way to go, as otherwise why engage at all with the brand in social networks?