Facebook's Shops explained: How they work on Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp

Facebook small businesses

The move to build up e-commerce offerings follows Facebook's launch a year ago of limited shopping options on Instagram and messaging service WhatsApp. Facebook Marketplace operates much like Craigslist, allowing communities to sell items locally.

A checkout feature will enable in-app purchases, while a messaging feature will eventually allow customers to chat with businesses through WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct.

The move comes as Facebook expands its core business to accommodate those affected by the pandemic. Facebook said in a blog post that the company will share aggregated data with the business about its store's performance and traffic, but will not share personally identifiable information, such as a user's name or email address, unless you are granted permission to do so.

"COVID has not just been a health emergency, it's been a real economic crisis that is putting a lot of strain on small businesses and what we're seeing are a lot of small businesses are moving more of their business online", Zuckerberg told CBS. Furthermore, more and more people like to both discover and shop online.

The business will start testing this with businesses on Facebook and Instagram, and will roll it out more broadly in the coming months. The company is exploring ways to help small businesses create, manage and surface a loyalty program on Facebook Shops.

The clearest competitive advantage is price.

This application will enable businesses to showcase their products both on Facebook and Instagram.

The company is also going to introduce a way through which people will be able to sell and buy products in real-time, said Facebook on its blogpost.

The initiative is part of the change in direction of the company, increasingly focused on e-commerce as an additional way to increase revenue, beyond advertising. Shops will store your payment credentials, which can be used across Facebook's apps.

Thirty-one per cent of small businesses have stopped operating due to the pandemic, according to a Facebook survey.

Levy described this as a "build and render anywhere" solution, with Shah adding that "the shop itself will be very consistent, whether it's on Facebook or Instagram". The blog post further says that "you'll be able to message a business through WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct to ask questions, get support, track deliveries, and more". Users can then hop in, browse the product catalog, and buy the goods they like without ever leaving any of the social apps. For example, Shopify said, "Facebook Shops allows Shopify merchants to get control over customization and merchandising for their storefronts inside Facebook and Instagram, while managing their products, inventory, orders, and fulfillment directly from within Shopify".

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