Facebook Shops launches in the US

Social media giant Facebook has announced a significant social commerce play, with the launch of Facebook Shops, Instagram Shop, and a range of live shopping features.

Facebook Shops has now launched in the US, allowing businesses to set up a single online store for customers to access on both Facebook and Instagram. It’s free to set up, and businesses can choose the products they want to feature from their catalogue, and then customise the look and feel of their digital shopfront.

Consumers will be able to find the online shops on a business’s individual Facebook page or Instagram profile, as well as discover them through the stories and ads features on these platforms.

Connecting the various channels it owns, Facebook says consumers accessing the new Shops feature will be able to contact businesses through WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct to ask questions, get support, and track deliveries. The future plan is to enable shoppers to access individual businesses and make purchases within a chat in WhatsApp, Messenger, or Instagram Direct. 

“We want to give people a place to experience the joy of shopping versus the chore of buying,” Facebook said.

It added: “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.”

Instagram Shop, meanwhile, will be launched in the US this summer, allowing people to shop items via Instagram Explore. Facebook also said sellers, brands and creators will soon be able to tag products from their Facebook Shop or catalogue as they create videos, and make these items available for customers to buy direct from the broadcast.

Facebook said it is testing ways to connect loyalty programmes from businesses operating on its new Shops platforms to individual Facebook accounts.

In yesterday’s announcement, Facebook namechecked Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, ChannelAdvisor, CedCommerce, Cafe24, Tienda Nube, and Feedonomics as some of the partners it is working alongside to give small businesses relevant support.

“These organisations offer powerful tools to help entrepreneurs start and run their businesses and move online,” it said.

“Now they’ll help small businesses build and grow their Facebook Shops and use our other commerce tools."