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Facebook launches Facebook Shops, enabling businesses to sell direct via Facebook

David Murphy

Facebook has launched Facebook Shops, a platform that enables businesses to set up a single online store that customers can access on both Facebook and Instagram. There’s no charge to create a Facebook Shop. Businesses can choose the products they want to feature and then customize the look and feel of their shop with a cover image and accent colours that showcase their brand.

Consumers can find Facebook Shops on a business’ Facebook Page or Instagram profile, or discover them through stories or ads. From there, they can browse the full collection, save products they’re interested in and place an order, either on the business’ website or without leaving the app if the business has enabled checkout in the US.

Shoppers will also be able to message a business through WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct to ask questions, get support and track deliveries. Facebook also said that, down the line, people will be able to view a business’ shop and make purchases from within a chat in WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct.

Facebook Shops began rolling out yesterday, and will be more widely available in the coming months. Also this summer, Facebook is introducing Instagram Shop, in the US initially. This will enable Instagram users to discover and buy products via Instagram Explore. Facebook also plans to introduce a ‘Shop’ tab in the navigation bar, so users can get to Instagram Shop in one tap.

Additionally, Facebook said it is testing ways to enable its users to connect their loyalty programs with individual retailers and cafes to their Facebook account. It is also exploring ways to help small businesses create, manage and surface a loyalty program on Facebook Shops.

Chloe Cox, social media lead at Wunderman Thompson Commerce, said that Facebook’s online shopping initiative couldn’t have come at a better time for the company.

“Its intentions to move into eCommerce were made clear with the launch of Instagram Shopping last year – and with many consumers encouraged to do their shopping online, there is a huge market for them to tap into,” she said. What’s more, a fifth of consumers already get their inspiration to purchase online from social media channels and buy 3.5 times a month through those platforms – figures almost certain to increase this year.

“The move will be beneficial for retailers and other businesses. Social media has always been a great way to generate interest, but when customers want to convert that into a purchase, they are moved off the platform to a brand site. This introduces friction into the customer journey when you want to convert and also plays into customers’ desire for speed and convenience.

“Equally, Facebook Shops works for the social media giant’s own business strategy. We have seen from Amazon that if you own the interface, you own the customer. If you own the customer, you own the data. And if you own the data, you own the future. Facebook’s model has always centred around advertising and through its shopping platform will help it provide a hyper-personalised experience that keeps customers on its platform for more than just social media.

“The move into social commerce for brands and retailers is a no brainer. Our research found that a fifth of digital commerce leaders believe that social commerce would be important in 10 years’ time, thus making it the number one commerce channel. Whether or not this was a smooth marketing move by Facebook during a pandemic that has forced everyone online is up for debate, but the company will certainly win brownie points from small businesses and consumers alike in helping out a sector in desperate need of commerce.”