Facebook Builds Pages into Digital Mall for Small Businesses

Forty-five million small business use Facebook Pages, and the Silicon Valley company is now upgrading the app to make it easier for them to make money with the feature by reaching mobile users. The upgrade includes a tabbed mobile layout, so businesses can display storefront sections and let visitors shop for products or look at a list of services. The new Pages also makes it much easier for a user to contact the small business in question, with Call Now, Send Message and Contact Us graphics bigger, more prominent and colorful.

“Facebook wants to make it even easier for you to find businesses, and for businesses to serve you, all within its app,” reports Wired. Small businesses are usually diligent about creating websites, but in a newly mobile-centric world, that’s not where users are going.

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According to a recent Forrester study, 85 percent of time spent on smartphones happens within apps, not Web pages. Facebook Pages product marketing director Benji Shomair notes that building an app is expensive and challenging… and most users wouldn’t download a company-specific app anyway.

Facebook hopes that Pages will be the app that small and medium-sized businesses use to set up shop. It’s free, it’s easy, and much of their clients already spend time on Facebook. TechCrunch notes the strategy is not dissimilar from China’s WeChat, which lets businesses create “official accounts” that allow users to purchase items.

TechCrunch says the changes to Pages are the most extensive since 2012, and “build on Facebook’s recent announcement of new messaging capabilities for businesses and badges for companies that respond quickly.” In the future, Facebook hopes to offer the ability to find and contact local services, which will be especially compelling to business owners.

The Pages update, says TechCrunch, could turn it into a utility for businesses, as companies direct users on mobile devices there, rather than their own Web pages. That could be a win for businesses but also for Facebook, which can then sell ads to businesses to promote their Pages.