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Facebook recently announced the launch of Facebook Shops and Instagram Shop, new ecommerce platforms that allow brands to sell directly from Facebook or Instagram.
“This is the biggest step that we’ve taken yet to enable commerce across our family of apps,” said Dan Levy, VP of Ads and Business Platform at Facebook.
Why Did Facebook Create Ecommerce Storefronts?
Given the current environment in the country, and the required social distancing in many places, ecommerce has seen significant growth. Unfortunately, during the last several months, many brick-and-mortar businesses have struggled or closed. Facebook and Instagram Shops aim to leverage the increasing use of ecommerce options, while offering a helping hand to businesses that may have lost revenues recently and need alternative platforms for sales and brand engagement.
According to the Facebook blog announcing Facebook Shops, “Right now many small businesses are struggling, and with stores closing, more are looking to bring their business online. Our goal is to make shopping seamless and empower anyone from a small business owner to a global brand to use our apps to connect with customers. That’s why we’re launching Facebook Shops and investing in features across our apps that inspire people to shop and make buying and selling online easier.”
How Do Facebook Shops And Instagram Shop Work?
The Facebook Shops function like an online store, featuring products and services for sale, with categories of products, newly released and featured items and so on that shoppers can click on, add to carts and buy.
Instagram Shop, which kicks off later this summer, will initially be a part of the Instagram Discover Tab before eventually becoming its own destination on the Instagram platform. “You can get inspired by collections from @shop, browse selections from your favorite brands and creators, filter by categories like beauty and home, and purchase the looks you love all in one place. And later this year, we’re adding a new shop tab in the navigation bar, so you can get to Instagram Shop in just one tap,” explains Facebook. There is currently a Shop tab on Instagram already that allows users to buy directly from brands, presumably the new Shop tab will be more in line with the look and feel of Facebook Shops with “storefronts” from individual businesses.
Will Live TV Be A Part of Facebook And Instagram Shops?
Live videos have grown in popularity during the pandemic, and Facebook wants to make that increased familiarity a part of the Facebook Shops experience. “We want to be able to turn that live activity into a shopping behavior,” said Vishal Shah, VP of Products at Instagram, in an AdAge article about Facebook Shops. Adding, “We’re letting businesses and creators tag their products from their Facebook Shops and letting people buy them directly from the livestream.”
What Other Features Might Facebook And Instagram Shops Include?
Loyalty Programs: Facebook has been testing a pilot program incorporating loyalty and rewards programs into Facebook usage, and they are “exploring ways” to also have Facebook Shops manage loyalty programs on the new platform.
Partnerships: Potential partners that Facebook is working with to help small businesses thrive include Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, ChannelAdvisor, CedCommerce, Cafe24, Tienda Nube and Feedonomics. Facebook notes, “These organizations offer powerful tools to help entrepreneurs start and run their businesses and move online. Now they’ll help small businesses build and grow their Facebook Shops and use our other commerce tools.”
Messenger For Customer Service: Many brands already rely on Facebook Messenger to communicate with consumers through their business pages and that usage will expand with the new ecommerce platforms. For Facebook Shops, shoppers can use WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct to reach customer service and connect with brands for questions, concerns, package tracking, and eventually purchasing.
As shoppers increasingly move online, and as businesses look to regroup as the country begins returning to normal, opportunities for brands to reach consumers on new platforms and in new ways will flourish. Digital marketers should be prepared to implement user habit and preference data that social media platforms provide to help efficiently target and connect with shoppers as their needs evolve.
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