Facebook, which is launching Facebook Shops Tuesday with roughly one million businesses on board, says that it anticipates that it will be a boon to small merchants, many of which are adjusting alongside their customers to doing more business online as storefronts remain closed due to legal restrictions and safety concerns.
The new feature, called "Shops", displays product listings in an uploaded catalog that are customized to show the brands own look and feel.
Zuckerberg also said the world's largest social network would be working more closely on product integrations with Shopify and seven other online commerce platforms (BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Channel Advisor, CedCommerce, Cafe24, Tienda Nube, and Feedonomics) going forward. "And we're exploring ways to help small businesses create, manage and surface a loyalty programme on Facebook Shops". As the company points out, people are already using video to find items to buy, whether they're watching messages promoted by brands and stores or checking out video reviews and influencer recommendations.
"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, in a phone interview Monday. "Rather than charge businesses for Shops, we know that Shops are valuable for businesses".
As of now, the platform is launched in the U.S. while the company might be planning to expand it in other geographies as well.
The Facebook Shops service represents an attempt both to use the social network's vast quantities of user data to recommend products they might want to buy, as well as an opportunity to collect more information on buying habits, which in turn could improve its advertising business.
Additionally, Facebook also said it is trying to make it easier for consumers to shop for products in real time, noting that users having been turning to live video on its apps to showcase products.
Facebook now allows sales on the platform through Marketplace, which was launched in 2016 and allows users to sell personal belongings to each other, much like Craigslist. As a result, Facebook's revenue took a hit in the first quarter of 2020.
It's part of a major push by Facebook in recent years to move into ecommerce, taking it up against the likes of Amazon and Etsy.
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