Facebook takes big leap into e-commerce with ‘Shops’

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Facebook yesterday introduced Facebook Shops, an e-commerce feature that allows businesses to easily list their products on Facebook and Instagram.

The company says it is intended to make it easy for small companies to sell their products online, starting in the US.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a surge in e-commerce, as global lockdowns have resulted in an urgent need for remote shopping, as people across the world have been forced to limit their movement.

Facebook says creating a Facebook Shop is free, and makes it simple to set up a single online store for customers to access via both Facebook and Instagram. Additionally, customers can message a business through WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or Instagram Direct to get support and track deliveries.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook Shops in a live broadcast, saying it will allow businesses to list their products on their Facebook page, Instagram profile, Stories or in ads.

Facebook Shops will also allow companies to sell products to customers through the chat features of WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram Direct, and tag products during livestreams.

This is the second offering in under a week from the social media company, which also launched Messenger Rooms, a video-conferencing tool set to rival Zoom.

In announcing Facebook Shops, the company says: “We want to give people a place to experience the joy of shopping versus the chore of buying. And we want to help small businesses adapt and make it easier for people to discover and shop for things they love.

“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.”

How it works

“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,” says Facebook.

People can find Facebook Shops on a business’s Facebook Page or Instagram profile, or discover them through Stories or ads.

From there, Facebook says, users can browse the full collection, save products and place an order − “either on the business’s Web site or without leaving the app if the business has enabled checkout in the US.

“In Facebook Shops, you’ll be able to message a business through WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct to ask questions, get support, track deliveries and more. And in the future, you’ll be able to view a business’s shop and make purchases right within a chat in WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct.”

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