Facebook Shops launches with online marketplace for small business

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Facebook goes full tilt into e-commerce on its four platforms.
Photo: Facebook

Facebook and Instagram are launching a new online shopping marketplace called Facebook Shops, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Tuesday. The new venture is Facebook’s biggest move yet into e-commerce for businesses with its timing meant to take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a blog post, the company said the service will eventually work across all its platforms, including Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp.

We want to give people a place to experience the joy of shopping versus the chore of buying. And we want to help small businesses adapt and make it easier for people to discover and shop for things they love.

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. That’s why we’re launching Facebook Shops and investing in features across our apps that inspire people to shop and make buying and selling online easier.

‘Shops’ strategy

With Shops, business owners can create a dedicated “shop” section of their Facebook or Instagram page. They can build an online catalog of their products for users to browse and buy. Unlike other such services, Facebook Shops will not manage the transactions of products or services. Product listings will direct to a business’ existing website, unless it’s one of a handful of companies using Facebook or Instagram’s in-app checkout feature.

Facebook Shops will draw business’ social media fans to their products with shop owners able to chat with potential customers on Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram Direct.

The company plans to offer live video chat capabilities in the coming months with the ability down the road to offer live broadcasts — similar to that of a video shopping channel — to demonstrate products and sell online.

Facebook also said it’s testing ways to give businesses the ability to incorporate their loyalty programs into Facebook Shops, with the ability to track and manage points and their reward purchases.