Facebook today revealed its rolling out a major update called Shops. These would effectively turn Facebook and Instagram pages into digital storefronts, and the company is pitching it for small businesses.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed the new feature during a livestream. A Shop would function on a business‘s page or profile, from which a customer could browse their collection of goods. A business could, in theory, have their whole shopping mechanism on Facebook. Shops will be supported by third-party software like Shopify and BigCommerce, and businesses will also be able to implement customer loyalty programs in the future.
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.”
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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.”
Facebook has framed this as an effort to help small businesses who are currently struggling during the COVID-19 lockdown. Zuckerberg said, during the livestream where this was revealed, that this would help such stores keep a steady income and allow them to re-open when the lockdown lifts. He’s not wrong, either — according to a survey by Facebook itself, a third of small business owners reported they wouldn’t be able to reopen due to a lack of income, and more than half said they wouldn’t be able to rehire their same staff.
Still, I’m positive this is something that’s been on Facebook‘s drawing board for a long time. Instagram, in particular, is turning into a regular e-commerce haven, and Facebook Marketplace has become a very popular resource. So Facebook going all-in on e-commerce isn’t really a surprise. Zuckerberg also acknowledged during the livestream that a Facebook Shop won’t undo the “economic damage” of the coronavirus.
Facebook is starting to roll out Shops today, and you’ll likely see more of them in the next few months.