In recent days, Facebook announced the global launch of the free business tool Facebook Shops and, as a result of the expectation generated, the value of its shares on the stock market has increased like dramatically. Facebook Shops, which will also be available on Instagram, will allow brands to customize the store section on their Facebook pages and upload their product catalog more easily; it even raises the possibility of selling directly through the platform in the future. Below, we discuss the reach and potential of this new functionality.
How do Instagram & Facebook Shops work?
Already in 2015, Facebook highlighted the potential of its platform as a way to achieve online sales by enabling the shop or service section on business fan pages. This allowed retailers to display their products on a specific section of their fan page and add CTAs that would direct the user to the product purchase URL on their e-commerce.
The arrival of Facebook Shops consolidates this trend. The new tool will enable brands to:
Unify the stores linked to Facebook and Instagram profiles
With the “Shop Builder” tool it will be easy to edit and customize its appearance for free on both platforms. On the App, the shop has been designed to ensure a stimulating shopping experience adapted to mobile environments.
Choosing and organizing the products to be displayed into collections
Each collection can include up to 30 products and it is possible to personalize the name, cover photos and colors. Also, for the products’ upload, Facebook is working hand in hand with e-commerce platforms such as Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, ChannelAdvisor, CedCommerce, Cafe24, Cloud Store or Feedonomics to develop solutions that will facilitate the process of uploading and synchronizing the articles.
Send traffic to e-commerce or enable the sales process to be completed within the Shops
The integrated purchase option, known on Facebook and Instagram as checkout, is currently only available in selected accounts in the United States, although it seems that Facebook intends to increasingly centralize the purchase process on its platform to facilitate online sales and, in the process, retain some of the transactional traffic that ends up on external e-commerce. According to data from eMarketer, in the United States, Facebook holds 80.4% of the traffic referred to e-commerces, followed far behind by Instagram and Pinterest.
Establish direct contact with their followers
Users will be able to exchange messages with the brand in the Shops section through the instant messaging applications WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct to be able to address queries immediately, as well as receiving tracking information about the orders.
More features on the way: Facebook plans for the summer
In addition to enabling Shops on Instagram, during the next few months Facebook will work on more features that will encourage direct business generation through its apps. The main projects that have been pointed out are:
1. Live shopping links streamed on Facebook and Instagram
Streaming has established itself as a very effective way of connecting with users during confinement and everything indicates that live videos will continue to be used as part of the post-COVID-19 digital strategy. In order for brands to take full advantage of Facebook or Instagram Live broadcasts, the social network is developing a feature that will allow advertisers, influencers and brands to include product purchase links prior to the live broadcast and at the bottom of the video.
2. Options for integrating and enhancing loyalty programmes
Different formulas are being tested to make room for brand loyalty programs on Facebook. The options include being able to create them from scratch on Facebook apps or, instead, cross-reference the database built so far with the information available on the social network.
According to Marketing Land, since March this year, Facebook has already launched a pilot program with Sephora to evaluate the practical development of this integration. Without a doubt, the objective that Facebook is pursuing is to develop tools that allow for the maximum personalization of the brands’ interaction with their community of users.
Facebook Shops: a fast track to business digitization
The closure of physical stores due to the coronavirus crisis has forced consumers to conduct shopping processes entirely online. This change of habits has led to an increase in the consumption of all types of content on the Internet and the use of social networks. Facebook and Instagram have been positioning themselves for years as one of the most frequented places to seek inspiration and discover new products. In fact, according to a 2018 survey, more than half of U.S. users chose their app ecosystem as part of their shopping itinerary.
Without a doubt, the novelties that Mark Zuckerberg’s company is working on seek to reinforce the role of Facebook and Instagram as direct online sales channels and thus become the driving force behind the digitalization of many companies.