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DIGITAL MARKETING NEWS

Facebook’s Huge eCommerce Update

Facebook Launches Shops, Insta Shopping Tab, Shoppable Live Streams, & More

“Liking” things on social media is alright.

Buying tho? That’s hot.

If Mark Zuckerberg has his way, that is exactly what Facebook’s 2.6 billion users will begin the new post-lockdown era doing.

When they’re not butchering Dalgonas.

Facebook’s new e-commerce suite, Facebook Shops, announced recently puts it into direct competition with both Amazon and eBay, as Facebook explores new revenue streams outside of advertising.

Facebook Shops are customisable online storefronts, housed on a Facebook page or Instagram profile, which allow users to browse and purchase items within the platform.

“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.

That’s why we’re launching Facebook Shops and investing in features across our apps that inspire people to shop and make buying and selling online easier.”

The idea of making an organisation’s Facebook profile a centrepiece for operations is not new. In fact, at one point around 2012, it looked like that was the future, during the heyday of Facebook apps.

However, when Facebook moved Pages to more of a timeline layout and then pivoted to mobile, that killed that idea dead. Along with all of the Silicon Valley firms which had raised funds to capitalise on that emerging digital trend.

To help bring its exciting suite of Shops features to life, Facebook is working with partners like Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, ChannelAdvisor, CedCommerce, Cafe24, Tienda Nube and Feedonomics.

Setting Up Social Shop

Creating a Facebook Shop is free and straightforward, across both Facebook and Instagram. 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.

Meaning 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. 

Shops can be accessed via a business Page, or discovered via Stories or ads. From there, users can browse the full collection, save products they’re interested in and place an order.

Orders can be placed either on the business’ website or without leaving the app if the business has enabled checkout in the US.

Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram Direct then become customer service channels to ask questions, get support, track deliveries and more.

And in the future, users will be able to view a business’ shop and make purchases right within a chat in WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct. 

Shops will be rolling out globally in the coming weeks, as Facebook rushes to capitalise on the e-commerce boom COVID-19 has unlocked. Looking to bed in new habits before life returns to “normal”. Whatever that is.

Facebook has been taking baby steps in this direction for some time. So it is not a radical move. Expanded commercial functionality offers Facebook two significant benefits:

  1. An additional revenue stream reducing reliance on ad revenue which will take a hit this year and ongoing as the economic fallout from COVID19 becomes apparent
  2. Provides invaluable customer data and insights which can be fed back into ad products enabling Facebook to charge a higher premium for ads

Live & Loyal

Building on some of its recent Live video updates, Facebook is also aiming to bring expanded e-commerce functionality to Facebook Live and Instagram, making it easier to shop for products in real-time.

Soon, sellers, brands and creators will be able to tag products from a Facebook Shop or catalogue before going live and those products will be shown at the bottom of the video so people can easily tap to learn more and purchase.

This is currently in testing and will roll out in coming months.

Alongside this, bringing an added element of customer relationship management (CRM) to social media, Facebook is looking to allow brands to integrate their loyalty schemes.

“We’re also testing ways to make it easier to earn rewards with businesses you love by enabling you to connect your loyalty programs, like the points program at your local cafe, to your Facebook account.

You’ll be able to easily see and keep track of your points and rewards. And we’re exploring ways to help small businesses create, manage and surface a loyalty program on Facebook Shops.”

Inevitably, as Facebook ups its commercial creds, other players will follow suit. In fact, Pinterest actually got out of traps on this two weeks earlier, with its Shopify partnership, while Google has dabbled in this space via Google My Business for some time.

Come what may, for organisations large and small, social media marketing just got a significant upgrade, as we finally move from “Likes” to dollars.

Finally.

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