The last few months have served as a jarring reminder of how essential it is for businesses to have a solid ecommerce infrastructure in place. But while the current public health situation has lead to a significant surge in online shopping activity, ecommerce has been a steadily-growing marketplace for years. It’s for these reasons that the recent announcement of Facebook Shops is so significant for businesses of all sizes, but especially for small- and medium-sized businesses.
Facebook’s new foray into the ecommerce space represents an excellent opportunity for small and medium businesses to streamline and consolidate their ecommerce and digital marketing. This is especially key at a time when brick-and-mortar retail has tapered off significantly.
But what is it? What are the details? And what does it mean for your business? Read on to learn more about Facebook Shops and how to optimize your ecommerce efforts within this platform.
What is Facebook Shops?
Facebook Shops allows businesses to set up a web store directly through their Facebook and Instagram profiles. Though jointly announced as a partnership with Shopify, Facebook has stated that Shopify is but one partner on a list of prominent ecommerce companies who are getting in on the Facebook Shops initiative. Some of the other partners include BigCommerce, WooCommerce, and ChannelAdvisor.
In an announcement on their website, Shopify states that “as consumers increasingly shift to online and mobile shopping to find the products they want, tools like Facebook Shops will help merchants offer more seamless experiences and strengthen relationships with their customers.”
How Does Facebook Shops Differ from What’s Already Available?
While both Facebook and Instagram already have certain ecommerce features — Facebook Marketplace and Instagram posts that allow customers to buy featured products, for example — Facebook Shops will differ in the sense that it will allow businesses to set up free, full-fledged, customizable stores via their existing pages.
Unlike these prior ecoommerce initiatives, Facebook Shops will give merchants complete control over the “customization and merchandising of their storefronts inside Facebook and Instagram, while managing their products, inventory, orders, and fulfillment directly from within Shopify” or their preferred ecommerce provider.
What Does Facebook Shops Mean for the Consumer?
Ultimately, the intended goal of any business’s ecommerce activity is to create a seamless shopping experience for the consumer. In theory, Facebook Shops aims to do exactly that. The logic checks out. So much of a business’s ecommerce success is tied up in how they engage with and target their customers on Facebook-owned platforms. It makes sense to provide those customers with an easy way to convert on these platforms as they browse.
With Facebook Shops, Facebook and Shopify claim that “consumers will be able to easily find, browse, and buy products through a purpose-built, immersive experience in these apps they use every day. Checkout will be powered by Shopify for merchants, with Shopify also offering Instagram Checkout to select merchants testing the new feature.”
How Else Does Facebook Shops Help Small and Medium Businesses Streamline their Ecommerce Efforts?
Facebook Shops tries to make logistics and outreach easier for merchants that operate with very few personnel. These merchants will be able to leverage Facebook-operated communication channels like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Instagram Messenger to answer questions, lend support, help their customers track deliveries and more.
As the service develops, customers will be able to view products and shop directly in these communication channels as well.
Are All the Facebook Shops Features Available in Canada?
Facebook Shops will become widely available through a Business’s Facebook for Business account in the coming months. As per Facebook’s announcement, certain Instagram Shop functionality may also be delayed outside of the USA for the time being.