Facebook woos retailers and shoppers alike with new features

Facebook is testing new features that will make it easier for its users to make purchases without ever having to leave the confines of its mobile applications.
The move should be very appealing to business owners, especially those already doing some marketing/advertising on Facebook, as it should make transactions easier and quicker for customers.
Some of the features include a shopping section on businesses’ Facebook pages; “Carousel” advertisements that allow retailers to display multiple products in a Facebook user’s News Feed; and the addition of a dedicated shopping channel to the sidebar navigation in Facebook’s mobile apps. These might be small changes on their own, but together, they’re bound to have an impact on Facebook users.
That impact will probably manifest itself in two ways: convincing more people to buy things found on Facebook, and consumers staying in the social network’s apps instead of heading off to other websites (or, Zuck forbid, Pinterest) to shop. Canvas, a new-ish ad unit that shows products inside Facebook’s apps instead of on an outside website, is the update most likely to bring about those changes.
Canvas has been around since June, but Facebook said in today’s announcement that it’s testing a new version of the ad unit that will make it so “people will see a fast-loading, full-screen experience where they can browse through a variety of products, before going to the retailer’s website to purchase.” It’s basically the shopping equivalent to Facebook’s not-inaccurately-named Instant Articles.
Now, the “before going to the retailer’s website to purchase” bit contradicts my argument. But I suspect it won’t be long before Facebook expands its buy button — the feature which allows Facebook users to purchase goods through its app, and is mentioned right after Canvas in Facebook’s blog post — to include items shown in Canvas. It might just take a while for retailers to warm to that idea.
But Facebook is making a pretty compelling argument. Reuters reports that many online sales happen somewhere other than mobile devices, and for good reason: Shopping on a smartphone is a pain in the ass. It’s hard to type in credit card information on a small display, mobile websites still aren’t easy to navigate, and waiting for image-heavy pages to load is hardly worth the time and effort.
These are the same problems affecting publishers’ mobile efforts. People just don’t have the patience to wait for something to show up on their phones. So if Facebook can speed up the process, like it has with Instant Articles and will with Canvas, there’s a good chance retailers will eventually get on board with letting Facebook users buy things through the social network instead of an outside site.

Netflix and the non-event movie

Unlike the traditional movie paradigm, the value of the “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” sequel to Netflix will not decline over time and has no particular time “window.” It is not a depreciating asset but a long term investment in audience building, which makes it a very different animal from most movies.

Apple incorporates new iPhone sales strategies to tap into budding Indian market


Apple’s (s aapl) sales of the iPhone continue to do very well domestically, with the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c boasting record numbers last year, but the Cupertino company struggles to bring its products to countries that are just now embracing smartphones. A feature in the New York Times on Sunday showed the intricacies of Apple’s iPhone sales in India, employing monthly plans and special discount deals to sell phones — key in an area where incomes can be just a few hundred a month. It’s a good glimpse into the brand’s attempt to crack developing markets and gain crucial users.

Target finally confirms malware in point-of -sale systems

Target’s (s tgt) massive data breach, which occurred in mid-December of last year, has affected millions of customers, but the company has remained quiet about how personal and financial information was leaked. But CEO Gregg Steinhafel’s interview with CNBC yesterday finally shed some light on the attack, and it’s not pretty: the information was lifted via malware distributed directly through Target’s point-of-sale systems, and the company waited four days before disclosing the attack. That’s probably not very reassuring to the 110 million customers potentially affected by the attack.

Tapping the search data gold mine

Most CMOs view paid search as a basic transactional relationship with no real strategic value beyond the revenue from the click. Forward-looking CMOs are adopting big data technology to tap search for data on consumer intent, behaviors, and preferences.

Shopular app pushes real-time deals while you’re at the mall

Shopular, a location-aware mobile app, is officially launching Friday to serve up relevant in-store deals while consumers are shopping. To start, the app will only alert shoppers once it senses that they’re at a shopping mall, but the company plans to expand to more locations.

Design shopping site Fab partners with LivingSocial for distribution

Fab, the NY-based design-centric shopping site, on Wednesday announced that it had partnered with deals site LivingSocial for the holidays. As part of the partnership, Fab products will be featured in LIvingSocial’s gift guide, which reaches 24 million people.