August 27, 2020
Next Tuesday, Facebook will begin the global rollout of a new tab in its main app called Facebook Shop, which allows users to browse product catalogs and buy items directly on the social media platform. The new feature, previously in beta with a small group of U.S. users, joins a similar feature launched on Instagram last month. Prior to Facebook Shop, businesses could add catalogs to their Facebook pages, but the new feature is a dedicated marketplace for multiple retailers. Instagram’s Checkout feature will also soon be broadly available.
Bloomberg reports that Facebook is “moving more aggressively into commerce as a way to enhance its targeted advertising business and build revenue from businesses beyond ads.” According to Instagram head of product Vishal Shah, Facebook has temporarily suspended its practice of charging a fee for sales made on its platform.
Earlier this year, Facebook debuted Shops, a “similar shopping feature … that will let businesses create one product catalog that works across all of the social network’s different apps, including Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp.”
“I think there’s definitely an increased amount of energy around shopping, and that’s both the result of more leadership attention but really just what we’re seeing from the data and research around the pandemic and around people bringing their businesses online,” Shah said.
The Verge reports that, “sellers will also be able to host Live Shopping events during which they live stream and show off products that customers can buy directly through the stream on either Facebook or Instagram.” Facebook also “updated its commerce eligibility requirements this summer to make sure authentic businesses were the only ones selling products.”
In 2019, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said commerce and payments would be the future of the company [and] “he’s making good on that promise.” When Facebook begins to charge for transactions, “it’ll likely become a major revenue line and diversify the company away from advertising.”
TheNextWeb notes that, “Facebook’s AI team has applied various models on this service including computer vision to categorize each product by identifying the brand, color, design and style … So, if you’re searching for a particular item with a specific color, you can get accurate results.” Shops also offers a “new layout for featuring single or group of products, new insights page, and a real-time preview of collections design … plus … is rolling out support for Checkout on Instagram and Facebook across the U.S.”
Facebook is also debuting support via chat with businesses on Facebook Shops via Messenger, Instagram Direct or WhatsApp. In India, Facebook teamed up with Reliance Jio “to let customers order groceries through WhatsApp.”