Facebook Just Entered the World of Retail
Last week Facebook began testing a ‘Buy’ button inside news feed posts and adverts. The new application will allow users to purchase goods and services from Facebook without having to leave the site. The ‘Buy’ feature marks a new stage in the company’s evolution and could turn it into a significant moneymaking machine.
In recent months, the number of ads showing up on Facebook has increased significantly, giving the social media giant an eight percent share of digital ad spending worldwide. Its new on-site purchasing feature will likely see this percentage increase.
Speaking about the evolution of ecommerce at Facebook, Nicolas Franchet, global head of retail and ecommerce said, “We can offer a sheer reach that no other platform can.”
Facebook is not the only tech company making waves in the ecommerce space however. Both Apple and Google have entered the online retail marketplace with iTunes and App Store and Google Shopping Express. “As Amazon becomes more like everyone else, everyone else is trying to become more like Amazon,” says Marcus Wohlsen, writing for WIRED.
Such a progression makes a lot of sense. As a Facebook advertiser, your ad’s value is significantly increased if it can be directly converted into a sale. Facebook provides a quick and efficient platform for purchases and will no doubt take a slice off the top of the sale amount. Alternatively, Facebook could charge customers a lot more for placing an advert in the first place.
As Franchet explained, Facebook has tested various ways of reshaping ads as something closer to straight-up product listings. In one experiment, for example, some users were seeing ads in their news feeds that include a “Shop Now” button. Others had the option of automatically filling in shipping and billing information in online shopping carts using information stored on Facebook. “Everything is being reinvented,” he said.
However, despite this natural progression into the retail world, Facebook is not about to turn into another online store. The focus will be on browsing and discovering new things based on your interests and personal recommendations from friends.
With the preferences and social lives of one billion users to analyze, shopping on Facebook promises to be a kind of personalized experience that no physical store could hope to replicate. Ideally, the experience would resemble hanging out at a store with your best friend, except instead of browsing shelves with an unchanging selection of items, the shelves are constantly circulating merchandise right in front of your eyes to show you the good that you a likely to purchase.
Once the user registers an interest in the product or service, Facebook aims to make the ‘check out’ experience as smooth as possible. For example, it has a pilot program called “Autosale,” where it’s working with a few online retailers such as menswear site Jack Threads to pre-populate that payment information to encourage customers to complete the sale. “In a perfect world, you don’t have to check out,” Franchet said.
Of course, users would have to supply Facebook with their credit card information in the first instance for this to work, paving the way for rumors about a Facebook version of Google Wallet or PayPal.
So there you have it. Facebook is certainly taking strides to own part of the online retail market. The brand has been incredibly successful when it comes to engaging million of users but will it be able to replicate this success from an ecommerce perspective?
Six issues at the top of tax and finance leaders’ agenda
New Deloitte research reveals that tax leaders are under increasing pressure to add strategic value as companies accelerate business model transformation, from undergoing digital transformations to rethinking their supply chains or investing in green initiatives.
According to Phil Mills, Deloitte Global Tax & Legal Leader, to “truly deliver value to the business, the tax function needs to rethink its resourcing model and transform its technology infrastructure to create capacity and control costs”.
And the good news, according to Mills, is that tax and business leaders have more options at their disposal to achieve this.
Reflecting the insights of global tax and finance executives at global companies, Deloitte’s Tax Operations in Focus study reveals the six issues at the top of tax and finance leaders’ agenda.
Trend 1: Businesses seek more strategic counsel from tax
Companies are being pushed to develop new digital products and distribution channels and accelerate sustainable transformation and this is taking them into uncharted tax territory. Tax leaders say their teams must have the resources and skills to give deeper advisory support on digital business models (65%), supply chain restructuring (49%) and sustainability (48%) over the next two years. This means redrawing the boundaries of what tax professionals focus on, and accelerating adoption of advanced technologies and lower-cost resourcing models to meet compliance requirements and free up time.
According to Joanne Walker, Group Tax Director, BT Group PLC, "There’s still a heavy compliance load today, but the vision for the future would be that much of that falls away, and tax people become subject matter experts who help program the machine, ensure quality control, and redirect their time to advisory activity.”
Trend 2: Tipping point for resourcing models
Business partnering demands in the tax department are on the rise, but 93% of tax leaders say their department’s budget is remaining flat or falling. To ensure that the tax function can redefine itself as a strategic function at the pace that is required, leaders are choosing to move increasing amounts of compliance and reporting to a combination of shared service centers, finance departments, and outsourcing providers that have invested in best-in-class technology.
Trend 3: Digital tax administration is moving faster than expected
in addition to the rising focus of the corporate tax department partnering with their business counterparts, transformative changes to the way companies share tax information with revenue authorities is also creating an imperative to modernize operations at a faster pace. Nine in 10 (92%) respondents say that shifting revenue authority demands on digital tax administration will have a moderate or high impact on tax operations and resources over the next five years—and several heads of tax said the trend is moving faster than expected.
"It’s really stepped up in the last couple of years," says Anna Elphick, VP Tax, Unilever. "Tax authorities don't just want a faster turnaround for compliance but access into a company’s systems. It's not unreasonable to think that in a much shorter time than we expect, compliance will be about companies reviewing a return that's been drafted by the tax authorities."
Trend 4: Data simplification and lower-cost resourcing are top priorities
Tax leaders said that simplifying data management (53%) and moving to lower-cost resourcing models (51%) must be prioritized if tax is to become more proactive at delivering strategic insights to the business. Many tax teams are ensuring that they have a seat at the table as ERP systems are overhauled, which is paying dividends: 56% of those that have introduced NextGen ERP systems are now highly effective at supporting the business with scenario-modeling insights. Only 35% of those with moderate to low use of NextGen ERP systems said the same.
At Stryker, “we automated the source P&L process for transfer pricing which took a huge burden off of the divisions," says David Furgason, Vice President Tax. "Then we created a transfer price database to deposit and retrieve data so we have limited impact on the divisions. We are moving to a single ERP platform which will help us make take the next step with robotics.”
Trend 5: Skillsets are shifting
Embedding a new data infrastructure and redesigning processes are critical for the future tax vision. Tax leaders are aligned — data skills (45%) and technology process experience (43%) are ‘must have’ skills in a tax department of the future, but more traditional tax specialist knowledge also remains key (40%). The trick to success will be in tax leaders facilitating the way these professionals, with their different backgrounds, can work together collectively to unlock lasting value.
Take Infineon Technologies, which formed a VAT technology and governance group "that has the right knowledge about how to change the system to ensure it generates the right reports", according to Matthias Schubert, Global Head of Tax. "Involving them early was key as we took a greenfield approach, so we could think about what the optimal processes would look like and how more intelligent systems could make an impact
Trend 6: 2020 brought productivity improvements
Improved productivity (50%) and accelerating shifts to remote working (48%) were cited as the biggest operational benefits to emerge from COVID-19-driven disruption. But, as 78% of leaders now plan to embed either hybrid or fully remote models in the tax function long term, 34% say maintaining productivity benefits is a top concern. And, as leaders think about building their talent pipeline and strengthening advisory skill sets, 47% say they must prioritize new approaches to talent recognition and career development over the next two years, while 36% say new processes for involving tax in business strategy decisions must be established.