Tony is the Chief Marketing Officer here at Sales & Orders, along with heading up the inbound and customer marketings teams, Tony also oversees partnerships and branding for our award-winning company and platform.
With the coronavirus pandemic and spread of COVID-19 shifting the online retail landscape, Facebook has just released Facebook Shops to help brands connect with social shoppers.
Yet another exciting opportunity for merchants - accelerated very much by COVID-19 - customizable, branded Facebook Shops are now partially available for eligible retailers.
Though brick-and-mortar merchants may also be able to take advantage of the new roll-out, e-commerce businesses are already poised to get started with the new program.
(Source: Facebook News)
Although "Shops" on Facebook business pages are not necessarily anything new, Facebook Shops aims to bring a few enhancements geared towards mobile-only shoppers and provides ways for retail brands to create a stunning shopping experience on both Facebook and Instagram.
Positioned as a Small Business Solution
As reported by Main Street America, a non-profit focused on the revitalization of older and historic commercial districts through preservation-based economic development, COVID-19 has had and continues to have a veritable "vice-grip" on the SMB economy in the US alone:
- "Of the nation’s approximately 30 million small businesses, nearly 7.5 million small businesses may be at risk of closing permanently over the coming five months, and 3.5 million are at risk of closure in the next two months"
- "Approximately 35.7 million Americans employed by small businesses are at risk of unemployment as result of the COVID-19 crisis"
Yet, the e-commerce industry as a whole has actually benefited in more ways than it has suffered. This makes Facebook Shops an opportunity for brands both big and small to potentially grow their reach and connect with consumers in an incredible visual and welcoming way.
Facebook Shops aim to make it easier for e-commerce brands to have a customizable storefront on both Facebook and Instagram.
(Source: Facebook News)
Setting one up is said to be free and simple. Brands can choose the products to be featured and per Facebook - "from their catalog and then customize the look and feel of their shop with a cover image and accent colors that showcase their brand. This means any seller, no matter their size or budget, can bring their business online and connect with customers wherever and whenever it’s convenient for them."
Additionally, the benefits of a Facebook-hosted checkout being incorporated in Facebook Shops could shorten the buying process and make it more seamless for merchants to fulfill orders through minimizing how many times a shopper has to click through to products.
E-Commerce Stores Have It Made
By leveraging tools found in platforms like our very own Sales & Orders, store owners can have their product catalogs synced automatically with their Facebook Business accounts within the Catalog Manager.
This catalog can then be used to populate the new Facebook Shop, build featured products or categories, and all while being able to maintain a consistently healthy and updated feed of products.
Still though, the announcement left quite a few questions to be answered. After a little digging, we got to the bottom of the top three:
Is it available for both Facebook and Instagram?
The short answer is, no. The version of Shops for Facebook is not yet available, but it is available on Instagram when you meet the criteria.
What do you need to get started?
If you are able to use product tags for your Instagram posts, you should automatically receive access to Facebook Shops very soon.
When will Facebook Shops become fully available?
Right now it looks like it'll be a few months before Facebook Shops come out in full swing across both Facebook and Instagram.
On The Heels of Google
Back in late April, which feels almost like a lifetime ago already, Google accelerated its plans to roll out Free Product Listings on the Shopping tab of its search engine through the Merchant Center program Surfaces across Google.
Since then there have been additions to that program including an integration with PayPal aimed at gathering quality and trust signals, and the inclusion of Merchant Promotions on these Free Product Listings.
This is certainly painting an exciting picture for the future of e-commerce in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and continued spread of COVID-19.
Brands should be eager to adopt as many opportunities as possible into their omnichannel marketing and product delivery strategies.
While consumer behavior had already begun to shift to an "online" or even "mobile-first" outlook, COVID-19 has furthered this along substantially in just a few months.
Be Open to S-Commerce
The position of many marketers, including us, is that business owners and e-commerce brands should always have an open mind to incorporating new and exciting opportunities into their strategies.
The rise of S-Commerce or Social Commerce has really been spurred on almost entirely by platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
Facebook Shops looks be yet another social channel for connecting with shoppers to generate more revenue at absolutely no additional cost.