Facebook Shops is a new platform for online retailers

19 May 2020

Facebook Shops features in the mobile app. Image: Facebook

Facebook is launching a new platform allowing businesses to move online and connect with customers on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.

Today (19 May), Facebook announced the launch of its new Shops platform, which aims to help businesses of all sizes to set up an online store that customers can access on both Facebook and Instagram.

Creating a Facebook Shop is free for businesses. They can choose the products they want to feature from their catalogue and customise the shop with a cover photo and accent colours that showcase their brand.

Facebook said that the platform allows any sellers, regardless of their size or budget, to bring their business online and connect with customers whenever and wherever it is convenient for them.

Connecting with customers

Facebook and Instagram users will be able to find Facebook Shops through a business’s profile page, or can discover them through stories or ads. A feature available in the US launch of Facebook Shops also allows customers to checkout and pay within the app.

The company said that the launch of this new e-commerce platform is the natural next step from the days when users would post a photo of a bicycle with the caption ‘for sale’, which eventually led to selling products on Facebook Marketplace and the sale of clothing by brands on Instagram.

In a blogpost, the company said: “Right now many small businesses are struggling, and with stores closing, more are looking to bring their business online.

“Our goal is to make shopping seamless and empower anyone from a small business owner to a global brand to use our apps to connect with customers.”

Image of four phone screens, showing the Instagram shop features.

Facebook Shops feature on Instagram. Image: Facebook

Customers will also be able to message businesses through WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram to ask questions, get support and track deliveries.

Facebook Shops is launching globally from today. Additional live shopping features on Facebook and Instagram are first being launched in the US before a global roll-out will take place in the coming months.

The company said that it is also testing ways to make it easier to earn rewards through business loyalty programmes, first in the US and later in a global launch. Facebook said that it has worked closely with Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Channel Advisor and other e-commerce businesses to provide supports for small businesses.

“These organisations offer powerful tools to help entrepreneurs start and run their businesses and move online,” the company wrote. “Now they’ll help small businesses build and grow their Facebook Shops and use our other commerce tools.”

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic