facebook_logoOn Thursday, Facebook announced a new experiment: a “buy button” for SMBs. This feature allows users to make ecommerce payments without ever leaving the Facebook site. Users provide Facebook with their payment information, and Facebook ensures customer privacy, stating that credit or debit card details will not be shared with other advertisers.

Facebook released an example (see photo), in which the button appears in a “suggested post” in a user’s News Feed. The feature is also available on the company’s Facebook Page, so if a user looks at or “likes” the company Page, they can click the buy button.

A Tech Crunch article explains a major reason as to why this feature is useful. A common problem for websites is conversion rate. “Can you make someone who might be interested in buying something actually complete the purchase?” the article author Josh Constine asks. Bringing a customer to the checkout screen and having them enter their credit card information can be a challenge. With Facebook, these steps are eliminated. The button is quick and efficient, making simplifying the consumer’s transaction.

Currently, Facebook does not charge businesses for the feature, but retailers may be willing to pay in the future if it drives customers to their products and services. The benefits would go both ways, too, as the fee would become a source of revenue for Facebook.

A Business 2 Community article describes this test as “another push from Facebook to marry commerce with social networking. “ The buy button certainly represents another major step in Facebook’s dramatic and rapid evolution—simplifying monetary transactions for customers and businesses. Pinterest is already a major driver of online sales, and recent news reveals that Twitter apparently experimented with a buy button (see this Mashable article). Is this fusion the future of social networking? And if so, how will social media sites continue to advance their ecommerce and advertising features? Share your thoughts or experiences with social media ecommerce in the comments section below.