Facebook Announces Shops: a new e-commerce interface for Facebook and Instagram
After years of offering only a partial e-commerce solution, Facebook has announced it will be unrolling a new shopping interface. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought on a realization that online sales are not just another channel for businesses. The growing popularity of online shopping all over the world is pushing Facebook to become a shoppable platform and compete with the unbeatable giant – Amazon.
The new Facebook Shops will allow small businesses to sell directly from their Facebook page and Instagram profile without investing time and money in building an e-commerce site. How exactly will it work, and who will be able to join this new platform? We try to answer all these questions below:
What were the e-commerce options on Facebook and Instagram so far?
For several years now, it’s been possible to sell products directly from your Facebook and Instagram. On Facebook, you can add a “shop” section to your business page. Once you create the section, you can upload products and tag them in your posts to encourage viewers to buy them.
Instagram also allows business profile owners to sell physical goods (but not virtual products or services). However, the set up of an Instagram store requires going through Facebook’s business manager. To offer products for sale on Instagram, you must first upload them through Facebook and connect your Facebook page to the Instagram account. The process of launching the shop also requires going through an authorization process that can be lengthy and frustrating, especially for businesses from outside the US.
How will Facebook Shops work after the change?
According to the statement published by Facebook this week, their new shopping interface will be the same for both Facebook and Instagram users. Creating your own store will be free and straightforward. Every business will be able to showcase collections of products and control the look of the store by choosing a cover photo and its brand colors. Facebook promises that the simplified platform will work even form tiny businesses that want to offer just a few products.
What will you need to open a Facebook Shop?
Businesses that will be recognized by Facebook as eligible to set up a store will see a new link in their Publishing Tools. They will be able to upload products manually or connect their existing e-commerce store. To make things easier, Facebook will work with a large number of e-commerce providers, including Shopify and WooCommerce. After a one-time set-up, the store will be available on Facebook and Instagram.
Who will be able to open a shop and sell through Facebook?
According to Facebook’s announcement, the first businesses that will be able to join the new platform and sell on Facebook and Instagram simultaneously will be those with an already operating Facebook shop. Eligible businesses will receive an email from Facebook, inviting them to join.
What other options will be available as part of the new Facebook Shops?
As part of the new interface, clients will be able to message businesses directly from the store to their company Whatsapp, Messanger, or Instagram Direct. Future plans include the option to buy instantly from the Facebook Messanger app.
Another significant change promised by Facebook is the option to tag products during live video broadcasts. That means you’ll be able to add a clickable image of your product at the bottom of a live video describing that product – a fantastic ability for content creators and business owners.
Facebook has also pledged to facilitate the use of various loyalty programs to make shopping on Facebook an organic part of your customer experience.
And to help users discover the new shops, a shopping tab will be added to Instagram. It will allow people to browse stores or search for products by category.
It seems that Facebook has known for years that its greatest weakness is in the fact that users need to leave the platform to shop online. Despite this, they have not developed a real solution for selling on Facebook until now. The new platform announced this week would be the beginning of a new era in which Facebook and Instagram will become significant players in the e-commerce market. Instead of just providing us a way to discover products, they will become the shops themselves.