- Facebook announced the launch of Shops, a way for businesses to set up free storefronts on Facebook and Instagram.
- The company is betting that bringing more local businesses online will help them to endure while also creating big new business opportunities for the company itself.
- Shops will be available on Facebook today in the US and on Instagram sometime this summer.
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Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) announced the launch of Shops, a way for businesses to set up free storefronts on Facebook and Instagram. It will be powered by third-party services, including Shopify, BigCommerce, and Woo, that will turn the social network into a top-tier shopping destination.
In a live stream, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said expanded e-commerce would be important to begin rebuilding the economy while the pandemic continues. “If you can’t physically open your store or restaurant, you can still take orders online and ship them to people,” he said. “We’re seeing a lot of small businesses that never had online businesses get online for the first time.”
Facebook is betting that bringing more local businesses online will help them to endure while also creating big new business opportunities for the company itself.
While you can create your shop for free, Facebook could create new business opportunities for the company in advertising, payments, and other services. Businesses will be able to buy ads for their Shops, and a fee will be charged to customers who will use Facebook’s checkout option.
Zuckerberg also said that Shops will improve on the standard web commerce experience by storing users’ payment credentials in a single place that they can then use on any Facebook or Instagram storefront.
Shops can be found on businesses’ Facebook pages and Instagram profiles, and they can also appear in stories or be promoted in ads. Products that businesses have made available for purchase will appear within the shop, and users can either save items or place an order. Businesses can enable their customers to make direct purchases on Facebook or direct them to their website to complete the purchase transaction.
To handle customer support issues, businesses can use Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp to communicate directly with their customers. Eventually, the company plans to let you browse store catalogs and make purchases directly from the chat window. Facebook also plans to make shopping from live streams possible, allowing brands and creators to tag items from their Facebook catalogs so that they appear on the bottom of live videos.
Businesses will also be able to integrate loyalty programs with Shops. “You’ll be able to easily see and keep track of your points and rewards,” Facebook said in a blog post. “And we’re exploring ways to help small businesses create, manage and surface a loyalty program on Facebook Shops.”
Shops will be available on Facebook today in the US and on Instagram sometime this summer. Instagram will showcase brands on its existing shop account, which already highlights items that are available for purchase. Later in the year, it plans to add a dedicated shopping tab to its navigation bar.