Social media giant Facebook, Inc. has announced the launch of Facebook Shops, a portal that will enable small businesses to set up online stores that are directly accessible from both Facebook and Instagram apps.
The store owners can easily customize their inventory to be displayed online and control the aesthetic look and feel of their online stores. Customers, on the other hand, can easily access Facebook Shops through the store pages, Instagram profiles, or advertisements. The products that draw consumer interest can be readily saved, with an additional feature of placing the order without closing the app if the business has enabled product checkout in the United States. Besides, customers can also contact the store owners in Facebook Shops through Instagram Direct, WhatsApp, and Messenger for product-related queries, after-sales support, and tracking of deliveries.
The move closely follows the company’s release of the State of Small Business Report that details a recent survey of 86,000 small business owners in the United States during the time of shutdowns and closures due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Results from the study reveal a whopping thirty-one percent of businesses that report the closure of all operations. However, interestingly, fifty-one percent of companies disclosed a rise in online interactions with clients, and thirty-six percent of personal businesses using online tools relayed the conduction of all their sales online. The survey suggests that small-scale enterprises are increasingly moving on to strengthen their online presence, even making online transactions their primary sales channel during these unprecedented times.
The small business owners and managers are pretty crucial to the company, as, by their admission, much of the revenue generated from advertisements come from such small businesses. In the evolving scenario of Covid-19 implications on the market, it is vital that such businesses must stay afloat and continue to contribute to the company coffers, much akin to Google. Facebook has thus been proactively assisting small- and medium-scale companies to fortify their online presence and run independently on e-commerce sites.
The company is thus partnering with BigCommerce, Shopify, Channel Advisor, Woo, CedCommerce, Feedonomics Tienda Nube, and Cafe24, to help new brands bring their products into Facebook Shops. The brand owners can also use such third-party platforms to manage their presence on Facebook Shops, along with social ads related to those Shops. The owners will also be able to integrate their Shops profile across all Facebook apps, thereby increasing their visibility through stories and posts that are frequently shared on such social media platforms. The owners will also be able to tag their products during live social media broadcasts.
Another additional feature of the online Facebook Shops allows customers to virtually try on accessories such as sunglasses and personal cosmetic products using Facebook’s augmented reality technology and its extensively developed AI features. Moreover, the company also has plans to incorporate customer loyalty programs and reward bonuses through Facebook Shops directly linked to the user’s Facebook profile.
The changing market dynamics and negligible footfall in physical retail stores would affect small businesses severely. As such, it is increasingly convenient for such stores to transition to online e-commerce sites that would provide them with a readily accessible consumer base for product sales. As such, the move from Facebook has been touted as its biggest yet foray into the e-commerce marketplace, which will easily complement the future business strategies of the company, including Live Shopping and Instagram Shop.