Facebook moves into eCommerce with launch of Shops platform

Facebook is venturing into e-commerce with the  launch of  Shops, a mobile-first shopping experience where businesses can easily create an online store on Facebook and Instagram for free.

This sees Facebook mounting a challenge to Amazon and other virtual marketplaces with the launch of a service enabling small businesses to create a single digital storefront spanning the social media giant’s entire family of services.

Facebook Shops lets you choose which of your items you want to feature, merchandise with product collections and tell your brand story with customizable fonts and colors. In  Shops, you’ll be able to connect with customers through WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct to answer questions, offer support and more.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg hailed Facebook Shops as “the biggest step we’ve taken yet to enable commerce across our family of apps”, playing up the service’s potential during the Covid-19 (coronavirus) crisis, noting it enables small retailers to continue trading online despite any closure of physical outlets.

Zuckerberg explained storefronts can be customised and feature specific products, with integration to back-end business services including Shopify enabling existing catalogues to be imported.

Additional tools in the pipeline will enable businesses to access Facebook’s AI to tailor offers to customers based on their social media use. It is also exploring ways to allow retailers to create and manage customer reward programmes.

The service launched on Facebook’s main platform and Instagram. Messenger and WhatsApp will follow “soon”.