Why not allow visitors to make purchases without having to leave Facebook and Instagram apps? Starting May 19th, you’ll be able to browse and buy products directly from a business’ Facebook Page or Instagram profile. Facebook and Instagram announced the release of new tools that will enable businesses to create a Facebook and Instagram Shop. This will allow page followers to purchase and pay directly on the Facebook or Instagram app.
Facebook and Instagram already supported a degree of e-commerce — for example, Facebook has its Marketplace and will likely make a bigger push through its Libra cryptocurrency initiative, while Instagram allows users to buy products featured in posts and ads. But the company’s new tools go further, enabling businesses to create a full-fledged Facebook Shop.
In a Facebook Live session, CEO Mark Zuckerberg described this as a way to help businesses suffering in the wake of COVID-19, though he acknowledged it will not “undo all the economic damage.”Meanwhile, Instagram’s vice president of product Vishal Shah told me this is a big, global test of the feature, with nearly 1 million businesses already signed up. Facebook’s vice president of ads Dan Levy said that while the company will charge “small fees” on each purchase, the real monetization will come from driving more advertising. (Shops can also be featured in ads and stories.)
According to Facebook, setting up a Shop is relatively straightforward: “Creating a Facebook Shop is free and simple. 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. This means any seller, no matter their size or budget, can bring their business online and connect with customers wherever and whenever it’s convenient for them.” Shops can be found on businesses’ Facebook pages and Instagram profiles, and they can also appear in stories or be promoted in ads
Instagram is also getting its own updated shopping experience. This summer, the app will get its own shopping tab. The company has also implied this is part of a larger push into e-commerce, as one of the future plans is that one can “view a business’ shop and make purchases right within a chat in WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct.”
Businesses can handle customer support issues through Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp. Eventually, the company plans to let you browse store catalogs and make purchases directly from the chat window. It also plans to enable shopping from live streams, allowing brands and creators to tag items from their Facebook catalogs so that they appear on the bottom of live videos.
Merchants will be able to use these third-party platforms to manage their Facebook Shops, as well as the ads tied to those Shops. For example, 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.”