Facebook Shops might just be the cost-effective, frictionless marketing and shopping experience small businesses need to get back on their feet.
Most businesses now realise that recovery from COVID-19 means a robust digital presence. This poses a challenge for small businesses, as eComm simply wasn’t a part of their nine-to-five pre-Lockdown. However, a healthy dose of digital to boost customer connection and cashflow is looking more achievable than ever.
Facebook, in partnership with Shopify and a collection of e-tail players, have cobbled together the likes of Facebook Page Shops and Instagram Shopping to create Facebook Shops, a digital solution that could remedy the rough times small business is going through.
The name says it all, Facebook Shops.
Okay, there is a little more to it than that. More accurately, this will be a centralised storefront across both Facebook and Instagram that will enable businesses to set up shop, sell, and service all through social - no pre-existing website required. This being said, if a business already uses Shopify, or one of its others, existing product feeds can integrate with Facebook Shops.
Being quarantined from customers has created a contactless economy; orchestrated through online purchase and fulfilled via the courier or click-and-collect. The trouble is, not all businesses have easy access to an online infrastructure. Site builds can be expensive, only meeting today’s needs, and tomorrow comes along all too quickly. Facebook shops will democratise digital, giving virtually any business a fighting chance and the ability to adapt to the new normal.
Whilst Facebook Shops is free to set up, Facebook plans to take a small commission from each transaction, but this will be a tiny price to pay considering businesses will bypass the cost of site builds and have a clean, consistent UX across the board.
Facebook Shops will be fast and responsive as customers won’t have to leave their social environment to complete a purchase. Facebook Shops will also have the same look and feel regardless of where it’s accessed, creating seamlessness that will aid conversion. This will level the playing field. With eComm capabilities no longer contingent on cash up front for site builds, businesses will be able to act fast and establish online operations. But this is just the beginning.
Through Facebook’s family of apps, the game plan is to create an end to end social shopping experience. Businesses will be able to create their own loyalty program i.e. coffee cards via Facebook Shops. Messenger, WhatsApp, and those Instagram DMs will cover the conversational elements like getting advice from sales reps, as well as admin aspects like delivery tracking. Meanwhile, lenses from Stories will take augmented reality beyond seeing yourself with dog face-filter toward a try-before-you-buy utility.
But wait there’s more! Those aspiring Suzanne Pauls out there will be able to host ‘live- shopping’ by tagging products from Facebook Shops in their live steams – absolutely free. These infomercial-esque live-streams have been widely adopted in China, where social and commerce has been intersecting on the likes of WeChat for a while now.
Facebook Shops will be released to markets outside of North America gradually. According to Facebook, businesses already using tools like Instagram Shopping or a Facebook Page Shop will be given priority and invited to use Facebook Shops via email. While New Zealand awaits roll out, it is well worth getting set up with Instagram Shopping and Facebook Page Shops to ensure the earliest access to Facebook Shops as it moves through alpha and beta releases.
Facebook Shopping could strike just the right balance for some local businesses, striking a balance between affordability and functionality. So who knows, phrases like, “Honey, you want anything from the Facebook?” may enter our vernacular as naturally as “Google it!”