Why it matters: To date, most Facebook commerce has taken place between users via its Marketplace tab, a Craigslist-like feature, but Facebook Shops is at the center of its push to create an e-commerce platform for businesses. "From there, you can browse the full collection, save products you're interested in and place an order - either on the business' website or without leaving the app if the business has enabled checkout in the U.S.", says Facebook. Other than that, the company will enable users to link their loyalty programs from various merchants to their Facebook account as well. Businesses can set a cover image for their Shops, change the color scheme to suit their brand, and group items into collections to make them easier to find. One of the ways small businesses are surviving during this period is moving online.
Usage of Facebook Live and Instagram Live has surged during the coronavirus pandemic, and the social network will begin testing a way for businesses to tag products from their Facebook Shops or catalogs prior to going live and discussing them, with those products being shown at the bottom of the video.
"After all, if your favourite store has changed their hours, or switched to online delivery or kerb-side pickup, they've nearly certainly posted about it on Facebook or Instagram", he said.
"It's bigger than usual just because we want to make sure we're moving quickly to get these tools in the hands of as many businesses wherever they are, big or small, to help them survive during this time", Facebook's Layla Amjadi said.
Setting up a Facebook shop is free for merchants, and there's no charge for driving traffic from shops to check out pages on businesses' own websites, says Levy. And shop owners can chat with potential customers on Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram Direct.
The company said it will be more widely available in the coming months and it is starting with a global test of nearly 1 million businesses before a broader release. The pandemic has also seen small businesses suffer with 31 percent reported to have closed shop in a survey conducted by Facebook.
"People have been using live video on our apps to showcase products for years, from shoe stores announcing new sneakers to beauty influencers trying on different lipsticks", Facebook said. And anyone can browse and use Shops for free.
Facebook is working with partners like Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Channel Advisor, CedCommerce, Cafe24, Tienda Nube and Feedonomics in the United States to give small businesses the support they need.