Facebook Strengthens Its E-Commerce Offerings With New Shops Feature for Small Business

Consumers will now be able to buy directly from retailers that have Pages on Facebook, thanks to the launch of Facebook Shops.

This move builds on existing features like Marketplace and enables businesses to curate digital storefronts that shoppers can browse and purchase from.

Facebook currently counts 160 million small businesses on its site. Previously, these companies would use the social media site to market their product, then consumers would need to travel to a separate e-commerce page in order to complete their purchase. With Facebook Shops, transactions can all take place within the platform.

This launch arrives as consumers are still flocking to e-commerce for their purchasing needs, with brick-and-mortar opening in phases across the U.S. Downloads of mobile shopping apps have risen substantially in recent months, and many retailers have been pivoting to online channels in order to keep serving their customers. Facebook Shops will provide another channel.

The announcement, which took place on a Facebook livestream, also stated that this is the first step in Facebook’s broader e-commerce strategy. Next will be the launch of Instagram Shop in the summer, which will offer a similar in-app browsing and purchasing experience to Facebook Shops, first within Instagram Explore and eventually within its own tab. Finally, shoppers will be able to buy products through Facebook’s chat programs, like WhatsApp and Messenger, by communicating directly with businesses.

“When you walk down the road, or I guess when you used to walk down the street, not every shop was the same,” said Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, on the livestream. “We built Facebook Shops with this in mind.”

For participating retailers, creating the Facebook Shop will be free. Facebook will charge small service fees on each transaction. To get set up, the businesses will need to import their catalog, highlight feature products and then customize the Page’s cover image and colors.

When shopping through the Facebook platform, customers will be able to save their payment method and shipping address for easier repeat use. With many businesses already using the site for advertising, this feature intends to close the gap between customers seeing the ad and completing the purchase by making the experience as streamlined as possible.

In order to facilitate this e-commerce function, Facebook has partnered with Shopify and BigCommerce. Shopify recently announced the launch of its own e-commerce platform, Shop, which offers a directory of brands and allows consumers to keep track of their various online orders within one interface. Additional partners on the feature include Channel Advisor, Tienda Nube, CedCommerce, Woo, Cafe24, and Feedonomics.

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