Facebook Launch “Shops” to Help Small Businesses Sell Online

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

Announced during a Facebook Live session with CEO Mark Zuckerberg, this new 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 Shops:

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

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

According to Zuckerberg, one way that small businesses are surviving during this crisis 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.”

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According to Zuckerberg, the majority of Facebook’s advertisers are small businesses, and they make up the biggest part of their revenue.

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

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

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

Introducing Facebook Shops

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

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Small 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.

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And while every business, can benefit from this, Facebook Shops are 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 family of apps, meaning once you set up your shop, it’s going to be available on your Facebook Page and your Instagram profile.

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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, WooCommerce, Channel Advisor, CedCommerce, Cafe24, Tienda Nube, and Feedonomics to help brands bring their products into Facebook Shops.

Businesses will be able to use these 3rd-party platforms to manage their Facebook Shops, as well as any social ads related to those Shops.

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.

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.

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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.

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“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.”

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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.

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

While the main focus of Facebook Live session today was Facebook Shops, Zuckerberg 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.”

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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.”

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

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Thomas Burn is a blogger, digital marketing expert and working with Techlofy. Being a social media enthusiast, he believes in the power of writing.

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