On Tuesday, Facebook made a major new push into e-commerce, announcing “Shops,” a way for businesses to set up free storefronts on Facebook and Instagram.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the expanded e-commerce was important in order to rebuild the economy while in the midst of the pandemic. “If you can’t physically open your store or restaurant, you can still take orders online and ship them to people,” he said. “We’re seeing a lot of small businesses that never had online businesses get online for the first time.”
In a Facebook Live session on Tuesday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg expressed the new feature as a way to help businesses suffering in the wake of COVID-19, though he acknowledged it will not “undo all the economic damage.”
He also noted that this will remain beneficial after the coronavirus pandemic: “I do think we’re going to continue living more of our lives online and doing more business online.”
Per the company’s blog post:
“Facebook Shops make it easy for businesses to set up a single online store for customers to access on both Facebook and Instagram. 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.”
Facebook Shops also offer messaging via WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct to ask questions, get support, track deliveries, and more. The company plans to eventually allow customers to browse store catalogs and make purchases directly from the chat window. It also plans to allow shopping directly from live streams.
Facebook is also working to integrate loyalty programs with shops. “You’ll be able to easily see and keep track of your points and rewards” reads a Facebook company blog post. “And we’re exploring ways to help small businesses create, manage and surface a loyalty program on Facebook Shops.
Along with feature announcements, Facebook said it’s partnering with Shopify, BigCommerce, Woo, Channel Advisor, CedCommerce, Cafe24, Tienda Nube and Feedonomics.