Shopping through social media is taking a completely new turn with the introduction of Facebook Shops. At the end of May 2020, Facebook launched this shopping module on Facebook and also announced it for Instagram. For the time being, this functionality is only available in the United States but is expected to be introduced in other countries in the coming months.
According to Facebook, the idea of the new shopping module is in line with how consumers have been using the medium for years. For example, both Facebook and Instagram are widely used by people who offer their things in all kinds of creative. Also, the company thinks that with Facebook Shops, they create an essential opportunity for smaller companies, who may struggle with whether or not to keep their physical store. In other words: Facebook Shops should ensure a simple and accessible way of offering products online, without having a physical store or even maintaining a fully-fledged webshop.
It’s also good to know that there are restrictions on the number of products that you can offer through the new Facebook Shops. You can submit a minimum of six and a maximum of thirty products. This also shows that Facebook mainly focuses on smaller companies. If you are currently already using Instagram shopping, you can add unlimited products from your webshop and tag them in Instagram messages.
To make Facebook Shops as enjoyable as possible, a sleek and user-friendly design has been applied. Just as with a real shopping experience, the aim is to allow customers to approach an employee. You can do this via WhatsApp, Messenger, or Instagram Direct. With this possibility, you can not only ask questions, but also request support or track deliveries. In the Facebook Shops environment, companies can display their products to match their corporate identity. Think of a cover image and the setting of accent colors that match the brand in question. By drawing a line in the design of these shops, Facebook ensures that every seller can present their company the same way, without distinguishing between the company size or a specific budget. Opening a Facebook Shop is free of charge.
Instagram Shops is expected to launch this summer, starting in the US. The shopping function will then be visible in the so-called Instagram Explore section. From that moment on, you can be inspired in every conceivable way. For example, you can filter by different categories and (just like now) get recommendations based on your behavior on the platform. To take it even further, a new tab will be added to the navigation bar later this year, allowing users to access the Instagram Shop with a single tap.
Facebook Shops makes it possible to search for products real-time. For example, sellers, brands, and makers will soon be able to tag products from their shop or (online) catalog before they go live. These products are then displayed at the bottom of the live video so that users can easily find out more about the product in question from the video and immediately purchase it.
Adding a loyalty program is also one of the options. For example, by linking the loyalty points program of a particular store to your own Facebook account, you can view your points and rewards instantly. Does your business not work with a loyalty program yet? Then it’s good to know that Facebook is currently researching how it can help small businesses create and manage their loyalty program through Facebook Shops.
Because of this new shopping module, Facebook will work with partners such as Shopify, BigCommerce, and WooCommerce to support small businesses. These organizations provide powerful tools to help entrepreneurs start and run their companies and go online.
If you want to place an order via Facebook Shops, both on Facebook and Instagram, you can currently only do this using a credit card payment. This is not the most commonly used payment method in the Netherlands. Therefore, we expect that other payment methods will be added as soon as the new shopping module is introduced in the Netherlands.
Until Facebook Shops arrives in the Netherlands, it remains unclear how this new function will be taken up. In any case, it seems like a smart move from Facebook, since it logically responds to a great need. This allows small entrepreneurs to efficiently offer their products without a webshop on platforms where consumers are often looking for (shop) inspiration. On the other hand, it is less attractive for larger companies, since there is a maximum amount of products that you can offer at the same time. These companies will most likely be more successful in selling through their webshop and may only use Facebook Shops as a sales platform for the best-running products.
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