To date, commerce on Facebook has taken place through Marketplace. The introduction of Facebook Shops is changing that. The e-commerce platform allows businesses to customize the look and feel of their “shop,” while equipping brands with a number of other tools, such as the ability to leverage loyalty programs. Learn how to create a Facebook Shop here.
Facebook Shops Allows Small Businesses to Sell Online From Digital Storefronts With Custom Look & Feel
Given COVID-19’s severe impact on small businesses and the mass pivot to the online space, the timing of Facebook’s debut of Shops serves to make the digital transition significantly easier. The e-commerce platform Facebook Shops, introduced May 19, allows businesses to set up online “storefronts,” customized to showcase their unique brands and catalogs.
“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,” explained Facebook cofounder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
As a recent survey by Goldman Sachs highlighted, an estimated 51% of small business owners have increased their online interactions with customers, and 36% of operational businesses are now conducting all sales online.
“One of the things I find so amazing is how much of the activity has migrated online and that we’re doing things we never thought were possible,” Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg told Forbes. “If I had asked you or you had asked me, could I work entirely from home? Can my whole company go home? I would have said ‘No way.’ But we did it. Small businesses have even more entrepreneurial spirit.”
It’s completely free to create a Shops profile. Facebook will simply collect a small fee from businesses that choose to use the “Checkout” feature. Shops emulates Amazon’s strengths; the platform collects shopper data and leverages targeted ads, thus inciting greater conversions from browsing to checkout.
The new e-commerce portal also offers opportunity for direct, real-time communication — similar to chatting with an attendant while shopping in a physical store. Customers can message business owners directly via WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct to ask questions, track deliveries and more.
Zuckerberg also said “augmented reality” is coming to Facebook Shops, so customers can try on items from home.
Folded into these platforms will be critical support for small businesses. Facebook is partnering with corporations with demonstrated track records of success in e-commerce to help entrepreneurs start and run their businesses and move online. Those partners include Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, ChannelAdvisor, CedCommerce, Cafe24, Tienda Nube and Feedonomics. “We hope these tools can relieve some of the pressure small businesses are facing right now and help businesses of all sizes prepare for the future,” Facebook states.
Connecting Loyalty Programs on Facebook Shops
Businesses can convert their existing loyalty programs to Facebook Shops, or launch a new rewards program — similar to a points program at a cafe. Shops tools will make it seamless for businesses to monitor customers’ reward points.
Facebook is currently exploring ways to guide small businesses through the process of creating, managing and surfacing their loyalty programs on Facebook Shops.
Come summer 2020, Facebook Shops affiliate, Instagram Shop @shop, will deliver a way for customers to buy products from businesses they discover through the Explore tab. Customers will be able to browse their favorite brands, filter by categories like beauty and home, and purchase things all in one place.
Instagram will also add a new Shop tab in the home navigation bar, so users can access stores with just one tap.
As partner Shopify put it: “Meet your customers where they are. It’s the golden rule for every business.” Now more than ever, customers are on social media.