Facebook wants to take the next step. The largest social media network in the world, with the Facebook app, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp platforms in its arsenal, is now looking seriously at the world of online shopping. Will we know this as the evolution of e-commerce to social commerce? The new Facebook Shops platform invites businesses to sell to customers on the social media app itself. It may be a good time too, with most businesses having been forced to shift online because of the COVID pandemic. Is the beginning of Facebook vs Amazon in the online shopping space?
“Right now many small businesses are struggling, and with stores closing, more are looking to bring their business online. Our goal is to make shopping seamless and empower anyone from a small business owner to a global brand to use our apps to connect with customers, says Facebook in an official statement.
What exactly are Facebook Shops?
Simply put, this will be an online store for customers that businesses can set up on the Facebook platform. Customers will be able to access these stores via the Facebook and Instagram apps. The social network also says the Facebook Shops will be available on Messenger and WhatsApp sometime soon. These stores will appear on business pages and through targeted ads.
“People can find Facebook Shops on a business’ Facebook Page or Instagram profile, or discover them through stories or ads. From there, you can browse the full collection, save products you’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.,” says Facebook.
What if I need help while shopping?
If you have a query while shopping on Facebook Shops, you will be able to message a business through WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct to ask questions, get support, track deliveries and more. “And in the future, you’ll be able to view a business’ shop and make purchases right within a chat in WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct,” says Facebook.
“We’re starting to roll out Facebook Shops today, and it will be more widely available in the coming months,” says the social network. At this time, the focus is on widening the number of businesses on the Facebook Shop platform.
Instagram Shop is also coming?
Facebook is also launching Instagram Shop this summer in the US. It will be integrated in the Instagram Explore tab. “You can get inspired by collections from @shop, browse selections from your favorite brands and creators, filter by categories like beauty and home, and purchase the looks you love all in one place,” they say.
What is the business side of things?
Facebook is working with partners including Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, ChannelAdvisor, CedCommerce, Cafe24, Tienda Nube and Feedonomics to provide support to smaller businesses who may need to move online. “These organizations offer powerful tools to help entrepreneurs start and run their businesses and move online. Now they’ll help small businesses build and grow their Facebook Shops and use our other commerce tools,” says Facebook.
This is the evolution from ‘Like’ to ‘Buy’ that Facebook is seriously looking at. With customizable storefronts, businesses will get an option to reach an even wider demographic of potential buyers on the world’s most popular social media platform. Global rollout details are still awaited, but the Shops should be rolling out on Facebook in the US anytime now. This could be a good strategy at a time when advertising revenues may have been hit as businesses that otherwise advertise heavily on the social network, may have pulled back.
How about privacy?
Facebook says they will use the data from your activity on Facebook Shops to personalize the experience on the Facebook family of apps and vice versa—and that would largely refer to the adverts and recommendations that you will see. They do say that none of your Facebook Shops activity will be shared on the social media platform, unless you choose to do so.