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Facebook Commerce Fallout Clouds Growth Forecast

Lack of metrics and privacy concerns may be holding back Facebook commerce . / Credit: lev radin / Shutterstock.com

Facebook's flawed Nasdaq debut is not the only speed bump slowing down Facebook's growth. Although small businesses continue to embrace Facebook storefronts, the recent abandonment of Facebook commerce, or F-commerce, efforts by large brands such as JCPenney and Nordstrom is causing many observers to question the prospects for social commerce as a whole, research firm eMarketer reports.  

It's not for lack of an audience, though. By the end of this year, Facebook will have 141.2 million users in the U.S. alone, which represent a potential audience that is simply too big for brands to ignore, eMarketer suggests.  

But what remains unanswered is how interested social network users are in shopping while in the middle of other social media activities. It could be that Facebook is simply not a place users want to go to buy things.

[5 Ways You'll Use Facebook in 2012]

Large brands may have curtailed their F-commerce initiatives because there are currently no metrics to measure its return on investment.

Another reason that sales on Facebook have not paralleled the social network's meteoric growth is user concerns about privacy and security. An Associated Press and CNBC poll of U.S. consumers taken this month found that more than half (54 percent) of respondents said they did not feel safe buying products or services on Facebook, eMarketer reported. Only 8 percent said they felt extremely or very safe making purchases through Facebook.

This reflects wider privacy concerns that users have with Facebook itself. The survey found that about six in 10 Facebook users (59 percent) in the U.S. did not trust the company, or only trusted it a little, to keep their personal information private.

But in the end, the size of Facebook's audience will trump security concerns and the lack of suitable metrics, eMarketer says.

"More adventurous brands are likely to continue experimenting with F-commerce in an effort to figure out what might eventually work," it reported.

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.

Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and has a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.