E-commerce has played a huge role in our lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most companies have resorted to selling their products online. This process has become a whole lot easier. Facebook has expanded its e-commerce abilities by allowing businesses to sell their products directly from their Facebook or Instagram Page.

What does this mean?

Facebook explains it as:

“Facebook Shops make it easy for businesses to set up a single online store for customers to access on both Facebook and Instagram. Creating a Facebook Shop is free and simple.

Businesses can choose the products they want to feature from their catalogue and then customise the look and feel of their shop with a cover image and accent colours that showcase their brand.

This means any seller, no matter their size or budget, can bring their business online and connect with customers wherever and whenever it’s convenient for them.”

How does it work?

Facebook Shop is free to users who have a Facebook Business page and an Instagram Business Account. It is designed as a mobile-first shopping experience, which involves both creating the shop and buying items of the shop.

Eligible business pages will be provided with a link to a new “Shop Builder” platform and from here businesses will be able to connect to their existing e-commerce providers, such as  Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, ChannelAdvisor, CedCommerce, Cafe24, Tienda Nube and Feedonomics, in order for customers to stream through their current catalogue or upload their product listing one-by-one.

By doing this, businesses can personalise their Facebook shop so their customers do not feel as if they are shopping on Facebook Marketplace. 

The main aim is to make the process as efficient and simple as possible so that businesses maximise the Shop option, however, this will not be available to everybody straight away. Facebook has not provided a final word with regards to which regions and/or businesses will be able to access shops, but they will let page managers know over time. 

But, Facebook does not stop there. In order to best facilitate the new on-platform experience for customers, Facebook has made it easier for customers to interact with businesses from their shop lists via WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or Instagram Direct.

All transactions can be completed directly on Facebook or through the business website. 

This is what the mobile version of Facebook Shops would look like

How far can this new platform go?

Facebook is working at bringing more shopping features to its other apps, such as live shopping features, Instagram, and loyalty programs.

Live shopping:

This involves customers being able to buy products being sold in real-time through Facebook live. 

According to Facebook, “People have been using live video on our apps to showcase products for years… Now, we’re making it easier to shop for products in real time.”

Businesses can tag products from their Facebook Shop which will be featured in their live stream and these products will be shown at the bottom of the broadcast. This way customers tuning into the live stream will be able to tap on the products to learn more about them and make a purchase. 

Instagram:

Instagram Shop will be a new way for people to discover and buy products without leaving the app, similar to Facebook Shops. These shops will be discoverable through the Explore section where users can browse through products, filter by categories and make purchases all in one place. 

Loyalty Programs:

Facebook will be implementing loyalty programs to businesses which customers frequently shop from allowing them to earn rewards. Customers will be able to earn and keep track of their points and rewards. If businesses currently have existing loyalty programs, they may connect this to their Facebook Shop or create one from scratch. 


Why do we care?

The rise in e-commerce activity resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic will likely be a long-term behaviour-changing trend.

Customers will realise the ease of shopping from home and once they are accustomed to online shopping, many will continue using this method of shopping as opposed to simply going back to their regular in-store routine.

Facebook provides key elements that are offering, audience and functionality which is beneficial to the social media platform. The platform has around 3 billion monthly active users across its “Family of Apps”, and will soon be offering Shops.

Functionality is the key but yet challenging as Facebook has to seek alternative ways to streamline payment. If creating a Facebook Shop is as easy as they claim it to be and provides a great customer experience, this could be massive and cause a major shift in the e-commerce space. 


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