Facebook recently announced a new feature to support small businesses called Facebook Shops. Shops will give businesses the ability to display and sell products directly on Facebook.
While most sellers will still need to drive buyers to their e-commerce store from Shops, Facebook is testing an invite-only Checkout program for which it will charge an undisclosed fee for each transaction.
Unlike the existing Marketplace, which offers peer-to-peer selling, Shops is a free-to-use social e-commerce solution available through Facebook and Instagram.
With Shops, ability to handle customer support through Messenger and eventual plans to sell products directly through chat, Facebook is making omnichannel e-commerce possible for the 90 million small businesses using Facebook.
Facebook is also planning to offer shopping through Live Stream videos same as shopping channels.
For some time now Facebook has been working on connecting its app (Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp) into an ecosystem.
Shops bring Facebook one step closer to building a social e-commerce ecosystem similar to WeChat. In addition to Shops, Facebook has also introduced a string of new features including the ability to connect loyalty programs to Facebook accounts.
Facebook has big plans for revolutionising online retail. With social e-commerce from Instagram poised to bring $10 billion in revenue by 2021, Facebook is putting its weight behind making social commerce available to business of all sizes.
This move alone may not be enough to replace Amazon but for some small businesses, Shops could become a compliment or even a substitute to Etsy.
According to Zuckerberg, Facebook isn’t positioning itself to become an e-commerce platform. Instead, more data on how, where, when and what we purchase will allow Facebook to improve its ads revenue.
Here’s a word of advice for anyone interested in giving Shops a shot, social e-commerce is ‘social’ and might require a significantly different approach than what most e-comm retailers are used to.