Facebook has been looking to increase their e-commerce presence for many years; from adding the marketplace feature on Facebook in 2016 to adding in-app checkout on Instagram. However, Facebook announced on the 19th on February their biggest push into the e-commerce market as they launched Shops on Facebook and Instagram. Shops will be a way for businesses to set up free storefronts and it will be powered by third-party services including Shopify, BigCommerce and Woo.
Through this announcement, Facebook’s aim to turn their huge social media network into a major shopping and e-commerce power is clear. The Coronavirus pandemic was the perfect time to announce it is an additional channel for businesses to meet demand. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated that using this new platform would play a crucial part in rebuilding the economy as it provides another channel for business to receive and fulfil orders online.
Shops can be accessed by users on businesses’ Facebook or Instagram profiles and be taken onto their storefront. They can also find the store through stories and promoted ads. Once the users are in the storefront, they can browse products, save items for later and place an order. Businesses can also direct customers of the Facebook or Instagram app onto their website if they wish to. For customer support issues, businesses can handle those queries through Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp chats.
Facebook will also be adding features to the platform to allow users to buy products from sellers, brands and creators directly on Facebook and Instagram Live. Facebook is also planning to eventually allow you to browse store catalogues and make purchases directly from the chat Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp chat windows.
Loyalty programs are also on the agenda for Shops as they look to add points and rewards to the platform. They are said to be exploring ways in which businesses can create, manage and surface a loyalty program on Facebook Shops. This suggests that more and more exciting features are likely to be introduced to this brand-new e-commerce channel.
This major announcement signifies a major change in the way customers will use social media and purchase goods online. Shopify CEO, Tobias Lütke, said that that he is “really excited about Facebook Shops” and claimed that “the future is multi-channel and social has to be near the core of everyone’s strategy.” His comments suggest that businesses have to use all the different channels available to them to reach their customers and increase demand, with social media playing a crucial part in this process.
While Shops is free to create for sellers, there is also a significant opportunity for brands to take advantage of; through advertising and promotional campaigns.
Our very own Paid Social Specialist, John Clarke, said that “This update has the potential to transform the way e-commerce marketers run paid social advertising.” Clarke added that social advertisers may need to adapt their strategies to reflect on how this update may change how the customer shops. Commonly, social marketeers would aim to get users to leave Facebook and onto their site in order to browse their products, but with this update, advertisers may need to drive traffic to their Facebook and Instagram shops to attain stronger conversion rates.
John also claimed that “Facebook followers will become more important to the pages they follow”. This is because “Advertising directly to followers of brand social pages could prove a very effective re-engagement strategy as brand followers have higher propensity to purchase”. “As fans of brands and businesses can be directed to shops, they’re interested in, all without leaving the app they’re on, the opportunity to sell socially has never been greater” explains Clarke.
He also suggested that upper-funnel awareness campaigns driving on-site traffic should be split-tested with driving traffic directly to Facebook stores to compare the results. There is also an eagerness to learn more about this new update added Clarke as he is curious to find out the full advertising capabilities and the relevant placements shops can appear.
This is a great opportunity for small and big businesses alike to take advantage of. Combining the extensive social media network and an easy to access e-commerce platform could potentially become a leading channel for many brands. This new platform was rolled out on Facebook in the US on the 19th of May, with the Instagram Shop to follow soon. The platform will also be rolled out across the globe in the upcoming months.