Facebook & Instagram Launch “Shops” to Help Small Businesses Sell Online

Facebook just launched its biggest move into e-commerce yet: Facebook Shops!

Announced today during a Facebook Live session with Mark Zuckerberg, the new e-commerce feature will allow small businesses to build online stores on both Facebook and Instagram.

And in the near future, Facebook Shops will also allow small businesses to sell products through Instagram Direct, WhatsApp, and Messenger, and tag products during live broadcasts!

Here’s everything you need to know about Facebook newest e-commerce feature: 

Build a Store on Facebook and Instagram with Shops

As the world continues to grapple with COVID-19, the economic consequences for small businesses have been, well, pretty bad.

Just yesterday, Facebook released its State of Small Business Report, which surveyed 86,000 small businesses in the United States, and one finding was that 31% of small businesses have stopped operating as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

But according to Zuckerberg, one way that businesses are surviving during this period is by moving more online.

“We’re seeing a lot of businesses that never had online presences get online for the first time, and we’re seeing small businesses that had an online presence now make them their primary way of doing business,” he said.

“This isn’t going to make up for all of the lost business, but it can help. And for lots of small businesses during this period, this is the difference between staying afloat and going under.”

facebook shops

Small businesses are pretty important to Facebook. According to Zuckerberg, the vast majority of Facebook’s advertisers are small businesses, and it also makes up the biggest part of their revenue.

So it’s no wonder why the company has been so invested in helping small businesses weather the COVID-19 storm.

In March, the company announced a $100 million grant program for small businesses, they launched food delivery & gift card stickers on Instagram in mid-April, and, just last week, they rolled out a Support Small Businesses sticker.

But today’s announcement of Facebook Shops was the biggest of all — and probably Facebook’s most important e-commerce play to date.

In Zuckerberg’s own words: “This is the biggest step we’ve taken yet to enable commerce across our family of apps.”

Here’s everything you need to know about Facebook Shops:

Introducing Facebook Shops

According to Zuckerberg, the basic idea behind Facebook Shops (or Shops for short) is that it allows small businesses to build an online store and sell things directly across Facebook’s family of apps, including Facebook and Instagram.

Business owners can create a dedicated “shop” section on their Facebook Page or Instagram profile and build out a catalog of products and services that visitors can browse, save, share, and even purchase.

Facebook Shops

And while every business, both big and small, can benefit from this, Facebook Shops is especially valuable to small businesses.

That’s because Shops are free and easy to create, fast, and, most importantly, they’re integrated across Facebook’s many apps, meaning once you set up your shop, it’s going to be available on your Facebook Page and your Instagram profile (and accessible from stories and ads). 

facebook shops instagram

Facebook Shops are also highly customizable. Businesses can choose the products they want to feature from their catalog and then customize the look and feel of their shop with a cover image and accent colors that showcase their brand.

Facebook is partnering with Shopify, BigCommerce, Woo, Channel Advisor, CedCommerce, Cafe24, Tienda Nube, and Feedonomics to help brands bring their products into Facebook Shops.

Businesses will be able to use these third-party platforms to manage their Facebook Shops, as well as any social ads related to those Shops.

Speaking on the partnership, Shopify said: “Facebook Shops allows Shopify merchants to get control over customization and merchandising for their storefronts inside Facebook and Instagram, while managing their products, inventory, orders, and fulfillment directly from within Shopify.”

According to Zuckerberg, part of Facebook Shops’ customization will also come from AI and Facebook’s augmented reality tech.

For example, if you’re a clothing store that makes clothes for both men and women, you’ll be able to personalize your storefront to show products that are most relevant to the visitor, like men’s jackets or women’s jeans.

Visitors to your store will also be able to use AR to virtually try on things like sunglasses, makeup, and even furniture — a lot like Instagram’s augmented reality shopping feature that was announced late last year.

augmented reality shopping

And 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.

facebook shops

Finally, Facebook is also testing ways to make it easier to earn rewards with businesses you love by enabling you to connect your loyalty programs, like the points program at your local cafe, to your Facebook account.

“You’ll be able to easily see and keep track of your points and rewards,” according to Facebook’s announcement. “And we’re exploring ways to help small businesses create, manage, and surface a loyalty program on Facebook Shops.”

facebook shops loyalty program

Something to keep in mind is while creating and using Shops is free, Facebook plans to collect a commission on orders that are made through the tool.

According to a TechCrunch interview with Facebook’s vice president of ads Dan Levy, the company plans to charge “small fees” on each purchase made through Shops — although he didn’t specify the rate or percentage.

We should know fairly soon, however, as Facebook Shops are rolling out today in the United States and should be available more widely in the coming months.

Instagram Shop, Live Shopping, and Other E-commerce Tools from Facebook

While the main focus of Zuckerberg’s Facebook Live session today was Facebook Shops, he also discussed some of the other e-commerce features Facebook is building to make it easier to buy and sell products online.

The biggest announcement was Instagram Shop, which will allow users to browse products directly from Instagram Explore and, eventually, will exist as a permanent button on the navigation bar, so you can get to Instagram Shop in just one tap.

According to Facebook’s press release, once the feature rolls out, you’ll be able to “browse selections from your favorite brands and creators, filter by categories like beauty and home, and purchase the looks you love all in one place.”

Instagram Shop

Facebook also plans to launch a new Live Shopping features across Facebook and Instagram, which will allow you to shop on Live in real-time.

According to Zuckerberg, more than 800 million people engage in live video daily across Facebook and Instagram, and a lot of that includes product tutorials and launches — so there’s already a strong e-commerce culture attached to live video.

But with Facebook’s upcoming Live Shopping feature, businesses will be able to “tag products from their Facebook Shop or catalog before going live and those products will be shown at the bottom of the video so people can easily tap to learn more and purchase.”

live shopping

Facebook and Instagram are already big shopping destinations, but Facebook Shops is bound to open a floodgate of new opportunities for small businesses!

What do you think of Facebook’s new e-commerce features? Let us know in the comments!

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