The retail industry has suffered many blows over recent years, but no one has felt this more than independent shops.
Online shopping has seen a massive increase in popularity of late, as lockdown measures continue to restrict the opening of non-essential stores.
Mark Zuckerberg recently announced new features that will help small businesses sell their products through Facebook and Instagram.
Introducing: Facebook Shops.
What is Facebook Shops?
Although it’s always possible to sell goods through Facebook, it was often a confusing, unintuitive experience for both merchants and customers.
Shops is a mobile-first shopping experience where businesses create an online store, choose the products they want to display and customise their branding – all without leaving Facebook.
Customers can browse and save products as you would on an e-commerce website.
A Facebook Shop can also be connected to WhatsApp and FB Messenger so you can answer customer queries directly. It was also hinted that customers will be able to purchase directly through these messaging tools in the near future.
The goal is to replicate the shopping experience you would deliver in-store.
What about Instagram?
Some businesses, such as fashion retailers, consider Instagram to be the more important avenue for attracting and connecting with customers.
Good news: Facebook Shop works seamlessly with Instagram – it’s one unified shop that works on both channels.
Customers can access through both your profile and by swiping up on Instagram Stories – great news for those who have less than 10,000 followers.
Another game-changing feature being introduced is ‘Live Video Shopping’.
In addition to the live-streaming features we mentioned in a previous blog piece, customers will be able to purchase products directly from a live-stream.
Much like the introduction of shoppable tags last year, these new features have the potential to turn Instagram into a complete social shopping experience.
What Does This Mean for Small Businesses?
It means that it’s now much easier to build and maintain an e-commerce presence.
Facebook is also working with partners such as Shopify, so if you already have a website, you’ll be able to sell through Facebook Shops too. Giving your customers multiple channels to purchase from can lead to more sales.
An important note to make is that you cannot currently check-out through Facebook or Instagram in the UK. Customers will need to finish the transaction via your website.
Checkout for Instagram has already been rolled out in the US, so it won’t be long before it’s available here.
In the meantime, start thinking about how to incorporate Facebook Shops into your e-commerce strategy.
Take Instagram-worthy photos of your products, use Messenger as a customer service tool and stream-line your website’s checkout journey.
If you would like to read the full Facebook Shops announcement, you can do so here.
E1MA are working on two exciting new projects to test these new features and expand our expertise on e-commerce. Watch this space for more details!