Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook is launching Shops, to let businesses sell products through the social network. The basic idea is that any small business can easily start a shop to sell things directly across Facebook apps. If you visit someone’s shop, you’ll be able to see that small business’s story, see their featured products, and buy them in Facebook apps.
Small businesses are moving online to deal with the economic fallout from Covid-19. As people are being told to stay home, physical storefronts are having a hard time staying open and millions of people are losing their jobs. Mark Zuckerberg has been personally working with his teams on Facebook Shops every day for the last couple of months so that they could accelerate launching it to small businesses who could use tools like this now.
Facebook Shops are free and easy to create. When you set up your shop, it will appear on your Facebook and Instagram accounts to start and soon on Messenger and WhatsApp too. Shops are native and fast, which means no more app-switching to a slow mobile web browser where you have to reenter your credit card when you tap on an interesting product you see in feeds. Facebook is also working with partners like Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Channel Advisor, CedCommerce, Cafe24, Tienda Nube and Feedonomics so that small businesses can easily integrate into a strong, open ecosystem of tools to help them manage their customer journey end-to-end, and it’s up to the business to decide what level of integration they want.
On top of that, Facebook is building a bunch of features across its apps to help people discover things from small businesses that they might want to buy. They are building a dedicated shopping tab on Instagram and a destination inside Explore where you can find and buy products you might be interested in. Soon, they will be launching new Live shopping features across Facebook and Instagram, which will allow you to shop on Live in real-time.
Lastly, in the near future Shops will use Facebook’s AI and augmented reality tech to create better shopping experiences. Facebook will automatically identify and tag products in feeds so people can easily click-through to purchase when they find things they like. Small businesses will also be able to personalize their storefronts to first show products that are most relevant to you and use augmented reality to let you virtually try on things like sunglasses, lipstick or makeup to see how they might look on you before buying, or what furniture might look like in your room.
This all adds up to something quite powerful. If you’re running a small business or you’re thinking of starting one – even from your living room – you now have a whole suite of tools available that can help you serve people. You can build out your online presence across Facebook and Instagram. You can use Messenger and WhatsApp to communicate with your customers. You can reach new customers through Facebook ads. And now, you can also set up a full online store experience with Facebook Shops. All of these tools are open for business, even when your physical storefront can’t be. Hopefully this helps relieve some of the pressure that small businesses are facing right now and helps them prepare for a more online future.