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Facebook’s Big Move Into Ecommerce

3 MINUTE READ | August 5, 2020

Facebook’s Big Move Into Ecommerce

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Eva Yang

Eva Yang has written this article. More details coming soon.

With the shift in shopping behavior amid COVID-19 lockdowns, Facebook has been aggressively embracing ecommerce to help businesses during the pandemic. Almost perfectly timed with the rise in online sales, Facebook has been rolling out quite a few updates to its shopping features. Most of these were first introduced last year in the testing phase but didn’t roll out until the previous two months.

Think of this feature as digital storefronts on businesses’ social network profiles. Shops help to drive further product discovery, and the look and feel can also be customized to tell a better brand story by adjusting cover image and accent colors, as well as hosting collections of the products. Eventually, Shops can link out for customers to buy the products on the site or directly within the app (if opted into the Checkout feature). This announcement comes in response to the pandemic’s effects, initially serving as a way to help small businesses that lack a solid ecommerce experience.

Building on the level of emphasis Facebook is now placing on ecommerce, Instagram is also prioritizing the Shops tab — its dedicated shopping destination — within the app. It’s a place to browse products from brands and creators personalized to users’ interests. At present, the existing Shop tab lives within Instagram Explore; but soon, it will be replacing the current Activity tab at the bottom navigation bar on the home screen, so that users can access the experience much more quickly. 

These updates work exceptionally well for brands partnering with influencers. Instagram has begun testing product tagging features in post captions, which were previously available only on the post creative. This update essentially provides another avenue for users to engage with products, offering another clickable link in each post. Soon, product tagging in live video will also be rolled out, allowing brands and creators to tag products at the bottom of the video from their Shops or catalogs before going live. Ultimately, capabilities like these will help to encourage more users to buy products directly within the app experience.

Last but not least, Facebook Pay was introduced last November as an option for users to transact securely across Facebook’s family of apps. Initially available only on Facebook and Messenger, users can now set up Facebook Pay on Instagram with a payment method of their choosing, making it easier to shop within the app. With the coronavirus outbreak and related shutdowns, this has also made donations to the organizations or the business much more seamlessly.

These updates undoubtedly kick off Facebook’s next stage of its ecommerce expansion, but what remains unpredictable is whether or not users will adapt well to these new shopping options. As an app centered around visuals, users are used to scrolling through photos and videos in the feed to find products they like.

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Creating and prioritizing the standalone shopping destination within the app, or even how people get more used to purchasing directly within the app, would be key in determining whether or not capitalizing on the rise in ecommerce amid the pandemic is the impactful move.