This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
TheStreet Open House

The Digital Skeptic: Facebook's Retail Faceplant

Stocks in this article: FB

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- My question to Facebook (FB) investors is a simple one: Have any of you actually used the thing to make money? Not make friends. Or be liked. Or play the markets. But, you know, earn real cash selling a real thing to a real person.

We have. And not just once. Many times. For like a year. My writing buddy Anthony Mowl tried to sell women's apparel on Mark Zuckerberg's brainchild. Yes, Anthony wanted the money, but as a journalist and salesman, he was also testing the retail worthiness of the Web giant.

Facebook won't be the place for retailers until the funny money, barriers to entry and creep factor go away.

How did this newly minted public company do as a retail sales tool? I will leave those words to Mr. Mowl: "It sucked on so many levels."

Here's why:

Facebook's "company store" feels like we're back on the retail plantation.
The retail cluelessness of Facebook is stunning. The operation has the hubris to be not merely content with taking a cut of what it sells but to steer users toward shopping with a company scrip called "Facebook Credits." Most folks use these credits to buy virtual goods. Say, an improved tractor on games such as FarmVille or upgrades to The Sims Social. (Side note: Is there anything sadder, really, than spending real money on a fake tractor?) But less well known is that customers can also use credits to buy goods from some Facebook retail outlets. The experience was like shopping with casino chips, except worse, since it sets up unnecessary steps in the retail process -- steps click-averse consumers clearly had no patience for in our testing.

Whoever came up the idea that dollars were not good enough for Facebook needs a big, long executive timeout.

Facebook retail apps kill -- and not in a good way.
Facebook often requires using specific bits of software to conduct business. These apps have cute sounding names. The one we used, called Payvment, boasts that you can "shop now." But what it really does is make people shop "not now." In our testing Payvment turned out to be basic recommendation, shopping cart and check-out tool. PayPal, which is nothing to write to the retail home about, is far better. And Facebook still managed to throw up yet more sales roadblocks. For starters -- get ready for this one -- anyone who wanted to even browse our store, much less buy, had to install the Payvment app on their own Facebook profiles. Which was both another multiclick process and a spam producer. The thing threw up wall posts such as "Anthony installed the Payvment app."

It was almost as if Facebook went out of its way to make it difficult for us to get paid.

1 of 2

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 16,614.81 +215.14 1.31%
S&P 500 1,941.28 +37.27 1.96%
NASDAQ 4,419.4780 +103.4040 2.40%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs