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Facebook Shops: Helping Small Businesses Sell Online

From today onwards, you’ll able to browse and purchase products directly from business pages on Facebook or profiles on Instagram. Both Facebook and Instagram have contributed to the advancement of e-commerce in one way or the other – for instance, Facebook owns Marketplace and will probably try to expand through its Libra cryptocurrency initiative, while Instagram lets users purchase products displayed in posts and ads. However, this new tool from Facebook offers even much more; it allows businesses to set up a complete Facebook Shop.

Due to the global pandemic, consumers are now more likely to consider Facebook and Instagram profiles as authentic sources of information on local restaurant and stores – if your favourite store has adjusted their working hours or changed to online delivery/curb side pick up, they’ve probably made a post about it on Facebook or Instagram already. With the current situation on ground, isn’t it only logical that visitors are allowed to buy products/services without having to exit the Facebook and Instagram apps?

Don’t forget that the pandemic’s economic impact is already affecting and destroying lots of small businesses – businesses that post and run promotions on Facebook. Therefore, it’s only fair that the company helps these dying businesses – in any way they can – get back on their feet.

While addressing the public in a Facebook Live session, Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, explained that this new tool was created to help businesses that are struggling due to COVID-19. However, he also acknowledged that the new feature won’t overturn all the economic damage. He also went on to say that the new feature will still be in use after the pandemic is gone: “I do believe that we'll keep living more of our lives online and doing more business online.”

In the meantime, Instagram’s vice president of product Vishal Shah has announced a global test of the feature, with almost 1 million businesses already signed up. Every single one of those businesses will be allowed to set up a Facebook Shop for free. All they’ll need to do is upload their catalogue, select the products they want to display, then personalise it with a cover image and accent colours. After the Shop is ready, visitors can then browse, save and purchase products.

According to Facebook’s vice president of ads, Dan Levy, the company will charge small commissions on each purchase while the real monetisation will come from driving more ads and promotions (Featuring Shops in ads and stories).Levy went on to say that this is a “create and render anywhere” solution, with Shah suggesting that “the Shop itself will be very homogeneous, whether it’s on Facebook or Instagram.” There would only be a difference in how the shop is discovered by customers; it could be through the Facebook Marketplace or a product tagged in a photo on Instagram.

Furthermore, the company also intends to introduce another feature called Instagram Shop, this summer. This new tool would allow users browse products directly from Instagram Explore and ultimately dive into a shopping experience from the app’s main navigation tab. Additionally, retailers would be allowed to display products from their Facebook Stores in their live videos, and consumers would get the opportunity to connect loyalty programs to their Facebook accounts.In order to make this project a success, Facebook has announced that it’s partnering with Shopify, BigCommerce, Woo, Channel Advisor, CedCommerce, Cafe24, Tienda Nube and Feedonomics.

Retailers will not only be able run their Facebook Shops with these third-party platforms, they’ll also be allowed to manage the ads attached to them. For instance Shopify said, “Facebook Shops permits Shopify retailers to be in charge of customisation and merchandising for their storefronts inside Facebook and Instagram, while controlling their products, inventory, orders, and fulfilment directly from within Shopify.”

We are excited to see how this new feature will catalyse ecommerce and help many small businesses create new online shopping experiences.

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