Facebook outage a red flag for vendors

Facebook outage a red flag for vendors

Pundits propose channel expansion

A Facebook outage that lasted about six hours on Monday night serves as a wake-up call for small businesses that rely heavily on the social media giant, suggesting they should consider expanding their reach via other sales channels to restrict disruption, according to e-commerce pundits.

In Thailand, Facebook and photo-sharing app Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, suffered service outages from around 10.30pm on Monday night. The disruption affected users worldwide.

The outage triggered outcry among many local netizens who expressed their discontent through other social media channels.

Facebook later said in a statement the disruption was caused by configuration changes on the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between its data centres.

"This disruption to network traffic had a cascading effect on the way our data centres communicate, bringing our services to a halt," Facebook announced.

Thanawat Malabuppha, president of Thailand E-Commerce Association, said Thai people spend a huge amount of time engaging via Facebook and that a heavy reliance on the platform also carries risk.

"For merchants, diversification of their sales channels to reach customers would be a good move. There are still various platforms for e-commerce, such as websites and marketplaces," he said.

"It would be better to have various channels for their sales," said Mr Thanawat.

According to him, Facebook is a major platform used by small merchants to livestream their sales. Facebook is also a platform where people explore new items.

Social commerce contributes around 30% of earnings for merchants while 30-40% are from e-marketplaces.

Pawoot Pongvitayapanu, chief executive and founder of Tarad.com, a local e-commerce solution provider, said the hours of Facebook outage experienced on Monday night significantly affected various people capitalising on the platform.

"Relying on one channel too much carries risk," Mr Pawoot said.

There are three main channels for online sales -- social media, e-marketplaces and vendors' websites, he said.

Regarding small merchants, Facebook accounts for about 30% of their sales channels, he said, noting businesses may now need to explore other channels when it comes to sales.

"Money they spend heavily on Facebook for ads may now be re-allocated to other channels, such as Google," he said.

Businesses can also sharpen their focus by opening their own websites.

"With our own websites, we can control everything by ourselves with our own retention of data," Mr Pawoot said.

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