Have you heard the news yet? Facebook Shops is coming to a Facebook (and Instagram!) near you. In its latest push into eCommerce, Facebook is now offering businesses the opportunity to move their stores online where they can list their products for visitors to browse, save, share and purchase, directly from the Facebook platform.

Businesses can feature products from their catalogue and customize their shop with a cover image and accent colours to showcase their brand.

While Facebook Marketplace and Instagram Checkout have been in place for some time now, the timing of this move is particularly valuable to small businesses who continue to face the growing economic impact of COVID-19 as their physical storefronts remain closed. Shops are also free to set up, empowering small businesses to connect with their customers on a platform that has proven its ability to influence desire and demand.

Once a shop is set up, it can be accessed on your Facebook page and Instagram profile, as well as from stories and ads, since Shops are integrated across Facebook’s family of apps.

Facebook is partnering with eCommerce providers including Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce to help companies manage their Facebook Shops and the ads tied to those shops.

To maximize the online shopping experience, visitors can also virtually “try on” an item like sunglasses or makeup using AR technology and contact the business by messaging them through WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct to ask questions or track deliveries. And in the near future, users can even make a purchase right within a chat in the WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct.

Finally, Facebook will also be introducing new features including Instagram Shop, live shopping and loyalty programs that will be integrated with Facebook Shop to provide more options for customers to discover products they’re interested in.

Facebook Shops: An Opportunity for Advertisers

We already know that online shopping is an increasingly important part of the consumer journey. Tik Tok recently announced a new way to shop online with the “shop now” button, Pinterest is continuously helping its users make a purchase with Shopping Ads, Instagram Shopping features products in posts and stories, and Facebook Marketplace has become a place for people to discover, buy and sell items online.

Since the announcement of Facebook Shops, Facebook’s shares are at an all-time high. So what does this mean for advertisers?

Facebook Shops is not a type of Facebook Ads but advertisers can run campaigns to promote Shops.

For retailers who want to spend their advertising dollars on the platform that has the most data about their customers’ behaviour, moving their product catalog to Facebook is a no-brainer. 

What’s exciting about Facebook Shops according to Josh Knopman, growth lead at cookware brand Caraway is that “there’s a lot of really interesting opportunities on the analytics front, to evaluate what consumers are spending on, and what type of images are the most successful.”

From there, retailers can more accurately serve ads to customers that show interest in their products, ultimately leading to acquiring more high-value customers.

And similar to other parts of Facebook, Shops can be used to personalize users’ experiences and show them more relevant content, including ads. For example, if you browsed a collection of earphones in Shops, you might see more content about earphones, including ads, displayed in News Feed, Stories and Explore.

Facebook vs. Amazon

There’s a lot of talk about a potential rivalry between Facebook and Amazon in the eCommerce space. But is Facebook the new Amazon? Not necessarily.

In looking at both platforms, Facebook now has stronger data around purchase intent, which it can incorporate into its advertising. But more importantly, consider the significance behind Facebook’s new social eCommerce model, which is something that even Amazon doesn’t have.

According to Justin Peyton, Chief Transformation and Strategy Officer at Wunderman Thompson, Facebook “should allow the brands that use it to more effectively retarget consumers who didn’t convert, but showed the highest levels of purchase intent in much the same way that Amazon has been able to retarget consumers based on their product browsing and abandoned basket behaviours.”

At the end of the day, it might be worth testing out Facebook Shops, in the least to get an understanding of the types of conversions that it could derive, not to mention the platform’s integration with Shopify and other eCommerce providers that make it easy to set up a virtual storefront, streamlining the process of uploading a product catalog as a result.

For more information on Facebook Shops, click here.

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