👏🏻 It finally happened, yesterday Facebook announced ‘Facebook Shops’, a service that will allow businesses to sell products via its platforms, natively. Notice the plural there, platform(S), that means Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp.
Both Facebook and Instagram already supported a level of e-commerce, for example, Facebook has ‘Marketplace’ while Instagram allows users to buy products featured in posts and ads. But the company’s new tools go much further, enabling any business to create a full-fledged online shop.
We’ve been talking about (and preparing for) this for a long time… social commerce is officially native. SO LONG WEBSITES! 👋🏻
Okay, we’re exaggerating, but for small businesses, this is a HUGE update. We have been predicting the ability to shop entirely on social for ages. ‘Facebook Shops’ makes the shopping experience completely seamless for social users – a gift considering online shopping is one of few joys left right now due to the Coronavirus pandemic. It also gives social-first brands the edge.
Covid-19 has made consumers even more likely to treat Facebook and Instagram as the go-to source of information for local restaurants and shops — if your favourite shop has changed their hours, or switched to online delivery, they’ve almost certainly posted about it on Facebook or Instagram. So why not allow visitors to make purchases without having to leave the Facebook/Instagram platforms?
While Shops are free to create, they could (and almost certainly will) create significant new business opportunities for Facebook in advertising, payments, and other services. Businesses will be able to buy ads for their Shops, and when people use Facebook’s checkout option, it charges them a fee.
Zuckerberg is positioning Shops as a tool for small businesses and you’ll soon be able to upload your products to Facebook (automatically if you already have an eCommerce website) and sell them natively across all of the Facebook family of apps. Facebook is also rolling out a tool to connect loyalty programs and a shopping feature showing product tags underneath live videos, allowing viewers to make purchases directly while watching.
Just like when you’re in a physical store and need to ask someone for help, 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’ shop and make purchases right within a chat in WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct.
Zuckerberg said Shops will improve on the standard eCommerce experience by storing users’ payment details in a single place that they can then use on any Facebook or Instagram storefronts.
Shops can be found on businesses’ Facebook pages and Instagram profiles, they can also appear in stories or be promoted in ads. Items that small businesses have made available for purchase will appear within the shop, and users can either save a product or place an order.
So, what does this mean for websites?
Well, Zuckerberg himself said during the announcement…
Although you could run your business through Facebook Shops alone, we think the better strategy is to support a strong, open ecosystems of business tools.
In short, Facebook is partnering with established eCommerce platforms such as Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce and many more to make their new offering more ‘complete’. So, it’s not really the end of eCommerce websites, instead, Facebook Shops is a hugely powerful addition to your eCommerce strategy and one you shouldn’t be missing out on.
We also need to consider ‘brand experience’ and although Facebook Shops will provide some basic branding and storytelling tools, they won’t be anything like what is possible through your own eCommerce website.
Also, let’s not forget that Facebook has tried something like this before (but a much more watered-down version) and it didn’t really work out, so this could go the same way. However, having watched the announcement (which is readily available online) and seen the demos, this looks very, very promising and could change the way we shop online entirely.
We’ve been preparing for this and we already have plans in place to help onboard our clients with Facebook Shops, across all platforms including Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp upon release.
Facebook Shops is available in some locations today and will roll out globally over the coming months.
Want to create a custom eCommerce experience that will link directly with Facebook Shops? See here.
If you’re looking to get up and running with an eCommerce website that will also link to Facebook Shops quickly and cost-effectively, check out Cakecrumbs.