Facebook enters ecommerce with 'Shops' to bring millions of small businesses online

Facebook is bringing 160 million small businesses online to help them survive the coronavirus pandemic. Shops starts rolling out today.

In a significant push for ecommerce and social commerce, Facebook is launching Shops to bring online millions of small businesses that have been struggling due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Shops, which enables businesses to set up free stores and live shopping tabs on Facebook and Instagram, is the tech giant's attempt to restart the global economy by enabling commerce.

“If you can’t physically open your store or restaurant, you can still take orders online and ship them to people,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained in a live stream.

“We’re seeing a lot of small businesses that never had online businesses get online for the first time," he added.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

The platform enables businesses to choose the products they want to feature, and customise the look and feel of their shop with a cover image and accent colours that convey their brand ethos.

"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 said in a statement.

Users can discover Facebook Shops either on the brands' Facebook or Instagram page, or through Stories and ads on both platforms. They can browse through the full selection of products and save the items they wish to purchase.

Photo: Facebook

Orders can be placed either on the brand's website, or on Shops in case the business has enabled Facebook's checkout feature, currently only available in the US.

To recreate an offline store experience, Facebook said customers will be able to reach out to brands and businesses on WhatsApp, Messenger, or Instagram Direct, for queries including product recommendations, shipping, payments, and others.

"In future, you’ll be able to view a business’ shop and make purchases right within a chat in WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct," Facebook said.

Photo: Facebook

Facebook will roll out Shops to 160 million small businesses from May 20, and said it will be more widely available in the coming months.

"We’re also investing in features across our apps like Instagram Shop, live shopping and more that will be integrated with Facebook Shops to help customers discover products they’re interested in and make purchasing easier," the social networking giant aadded.

A loyalty programme of sorts could be on the cards too – the company said it is looking into how customers can earn rewards and loyalty points that can be linked to their Facebook accounts.

"You’ll be able to easily see and keep track of your points and rewards. And we’re exploring ways to help small businesses create, manage and surface a loyalty programme on Facebook Shops."

Edited by Aparajita Saxena


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