Build ecommerce on your own digital turf

Buying a home is one of the biggest financial commitments a person will make, but when the mortgage is finally paid off, the property is yours and you owe no-one anything.
Renting is sometimes the only option for people, whether it’s the rules or the economics working against you, getting a roof over your head is the important thing, and you can aspire to buy.
But one thing is clear, people who CAN buy, don’t rent. It’s rarely a lifestyle choice.
In business, rentals are common. Whether it’s business premises, services, plant and machinery, renting makes a lot more sense.
But where digital assets are concerned, there is an increasing danger in renting online services, because of their uncertain future.
Nowhere is this more appropriate than social networks. You can build a full ecommerce site on Facebook using a variety of apps.
That’s great, and the shop may well enjoy some success. But every businesses that has a Facebook page also has a much more solid digital asset of its own, its website, on which it can build a shop. A long-term, fully-owned and controllable investment.
That’s got to be more complicated, I hear you say. Not really, the logistics involved in setting up an ecommerce site are more often than not related to storage, stock-keeping and fulfilment. Facebook can’t help you with those.
Perhaps they make it TOO easy, but then there’s an incentive for them to do that.

Why is this a bad idea?

Payvment closure
The announcement on the home page of Payvment.

For one simple reason. YOU don’t own Facebook, but you DO own your website. Assuming you haven’t done the same thing with your website, and built it on a hosted service that could be gone tomorrow, then building your online business on a platform you control, suddenly makes sense.
What if Facebook, or indeed any hosted service, changes its terms and conditions? Sound familiar?
What if they charge or decide to show your shop only to a select audience? Does that sound familiar too?
What if it was taken over by another company?
That scenario will also start to sound familiar, as just today (28 January 2013), one of the most popular F-commerce apps, Payvment, announced it is to close, after another company bought its customer base. And if you’re one of Payvment’s 200,000 customers, you’ve got a month to up-sticks and move your whole kit and caboodle to the new company, before they delete the lot, and just two weeks before your shop becomes inactive. What’s more, if you’ve paid someone to help you set it all up, that just adds insult to injury.
In fact, that’s the very reason why Canary Dwarf advocates building on a platform you own, because it is the safest long-term solution. In America, they call this ‘digital sharecropping’, after the system of agriculture in which a landowner allows a tenant to use the land in return for a share of the crop produced on the land. Facebook or Payvment isn’t taking a large share of the revenue, but is taking control.
What if the laws of the country it is governed by, suddenly change?
And the big one… what happens if (or when) Facebook loses favour with the general public?
You’ll have to start all over again. Is it worth it?
We don’t think so.
Use Facebook for distributing the links, promoting your website, and your ecommerce by all means, but don’t build on someone else’s rented land, when your own plot makes more sense.