Much in the way Facebook has revolutionized communication and connectivity, the company is now revolutionizing online shopping by creating a whole new category of digital retail: social commerce. The social media giant just announced the roll-out of a brand new feature available on Facebook and Instagram called Facebook Shops.
The feature couldn’t have been better timed, with both brick-and-mortar and online-only retailers struggling to stay afloat amidst the global Coronavirus pandemic. Small businesses are being hit especially hard by the shelter-in-place orders, with so many deemed nonessential and forced to remain shuttered until further notice.
Enter Facebook Shops. A boon for retailers who lack a robust website or e-commerce site and an incredible boost for any who do, Facebook Shops will certainly unleash a whole new world of digital marketing and truly revolutionize the consumer journey.
What are Facebook Shops?
Put simply, Facebook Shops are online stores that are fully integrated within a business’s Facebook account, in which shoppers can complete a purchase right from within the Facebook app. For business owners, the function is free and easy to use. For consumers, the user interface is simple, sleek, and responsive.
Any business can create a Facebook Shop, though they must be selling a physical product. Business owners can easily set up a Facebook Shop that connects with their inventory catalog. They can choose to feature specific products or collections that customers can browse through, add to their bags, and then purchase, all directly from the Facebook app.
Customers can access a Facebook Shop directly from the business’s Facebook or Instagram profile. Businesses can also drive traffic to their shops with Facebook ads or within stories. Now, instead of using a Facebook ad to funnel a customer to an e-commerce site, a business can advertise items for sale in their shop and drive ad traffic right to the product. So the customer never has to even leave the app to complete a purchase.
How Do I Set Up a Facebook Shop?
To set up a Facebook Shop, your business must:
- Sell physical items
- Link to a valid US bank account
- Have a Tax Identification Number (TIN)
Be sure to check out Facebook’s Merchant Terms first.
You’ll need to set up Facebook Commerce Manager, which is an all-in-one sales tool that any business intending to sell products on Facebook will need to set up. You can learn more about how to do that here.
From there, it’s a simple task of creating your catalog and promoting your shop. The most difficult part of the process is getting verified on the Commerce Manager, but if you’ve been selling your products through the Marketplace, you’ll be set up for this already.
What Are the Benefits of Using a Facebook Shop for My Small Business?
The benefits of utilizing this new Facebook tool are too many to count. While a full, robust e-commerce site is a critical component for any retailer trying to break into the digital sphere, Facebook Shops are poised to truly change the game as we know it.
First and foremost, it’s a free and easy way to get in front of your existing customers. Your best and most loyal customers are among those who follow you on social media. The Facebook Shops open a whole new channel of free marketing, wherein you can sell directly to customers right from your Facebook page.
Another huge benefit is the ability to create a seamless customer service experience. Shoppers can ask questions and seek help in real-time right through Messenger, recreating an in-person shopping experience like never before.
With Facebook Shops, you can also implement creative inventory strategies with ease. Build and promote collections that you can quickly and easily change to fit your inventory needs, in response to conversions (or lack thereof), and to ensure relevancy of the products you’re highlighting. Imagine the effectiveness of building pop-up storefronts on your Facebook page to meet seasonal demands, offload inventory, or promote new and exclusive products.
What Does this Mean for Digital Marketing and E-Commerce?
A Facebook Shop can be used as a complement to a business’s existing e-commerce presence. But for smaller businesses who either don’t yet have an e-commerce site established or are struggling with the technical aspect of managing one, Facebook Shops provide a truly seamless alternative.
E-commerce can be time consuming, and even with the most user-friendly applications and platforms, it can be far too advanced for many business owners. And updating it to create relevant categories or interactive landing pages for all of your digital ad campaigns can be challenging, especially for those very small businesses with few or no employees.
With Facebook Shops, getting the most out of them isn’t incumbent upon technical savvy.
In an age where many retailers are forgoing a website in favor of a Facebook business page (though even with Facebook’s versatility and ubiquity that isn’t best practice), the social media monolith is clearly vying to create a seamless interface for businesses and consumers, where Facebook has a role in every step of the consumer journey.
Facebook Shops will reportedly soon be launched on WhatsApp as well.
Used properly, Facebook Shops could vastly improve conversion rates for retailers’ social media marketing campaigns. If you run an ad campaign on Facebook with the goal of driving traffic to your website and, ultimately, pushing customers to make a purchase, then at some point in the journey the customer will be redirected to a link in their web browser (or third-party app) where they would then add items to their bag and complete a purchase.
This entire portion of the customer experience can now happen all within the Facebook app. Every touch point in the sales funnel will happen right on Facebook (or Instagram). And that’s sure to be hugely impactful to marketing tactics for all businesses who use it.
Facebook has already situated itself as a critical tool for digital marketing and online retailers. It’s been changing the landscape of online shopping and advertising since its inception, and with features like Facebook Shops, the tech giant is securing a long lasting foothold in the future of marketing and online shopping. The benefits for small business owners are likely to be profound. And the impacts to the overall consumer journey are impossible to fathom at this point.