Facebook has announced it is launching "Shops", an e-commerce feature that will allow businesses to display and sell products on Facebook and Instagram.
The new service is marketed as a tool for small businesses and marks a further push into e-commerce by Facebook, beyond its existing marketplace platform.
Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is positioning Shops as a tool businesses which have had to close their doors and move online due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Shops will be aimed primarily at businesses, allowing them to sell to customers on the app, potentially rivalling other platforms such as Etsy and Amazon, which have profited from the increased online sales that have come during COVID-19 lockdowns.
These storefronts can be run by various third-party platforms like Shopify or BigCommerce, allowing retailers to seamlessly integrate their existing online stores.
Some businesses will redirect customers to their own website to complete checkout, whilst others will allow shoppers to checkout via Facebook, with the social media company taking a small cut.
Businesses can interact with customers using Messenger, Instagram Chat or WhatsApp, with the company planning to allow shoppers to browse and make orders within these apps in the near future.
Loyalty programmes will also be included, with Zuckerberg adding during a live stream yesterday: “We’re exploring ways to help small businesses create, manage and surface a loyalty program on Facebook Shops.
“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.
“Our business model here is ads. So rather than charge businesses for Shops, we know that Shops are valuable for businesses. They’re going to in general bid more for ads and we’ll eventually make money that way.”
Facebook Shops will see a global roll out over next few coming months.