Facebook crushes it with online shopping
Facebook made an announcement on Tuesday that everyone saw coming by launching its Shops feature, a service that will allow businesses to display and sell products on its platforms. Positioned to take over the online shopping market for small business, Facebook opportune foray into the online shopping market comes as no surprise.
Ripely timed to coincide with the steep decline of physical retail stores and the COVID-19 lockdowns which have forced avid shoppings to hop online rather than enjoy the retail experience in person, Facebook's aim to not only capitalise on this market, but to own it, is something that they will most likely achieve.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, has positioned shops for small business, but don't be surprised if this shift in market changes sooner rather than later to include mid-sized businesses and large global retail chains.
The new platform is free for retailers with Facebook focusing its revenue efforts on the lucrative advertising market. Seeing Amazon's profitability rise through the pandemic, Facebook is lagging in its ability to get to market with a platform that gets the market buy-in however, like many of these platforms, early adopters will be the big beneficiaries.
Using Facebook or Instagram, online stores can setup a mobile-first shopping experience for their customers for free, giving the retailer the choice to choose items they want to feature, merchandise with product collections and showcase their brand with customisable fonts and colour schemes. Additionally, connecting with customers through Whatsapp, Messager and Instagram direct to answer questions and provide support is also part of the extensive features Facebook Shops has to offer.
"We’re also working with partners like Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Channel Advisor, CedCommerce, Cafe24, Tienda Nube and Feedonomics to give small businesses the support they need. These organizations offer powerful tools to help entrepreneurs start and run their businesses and move online. Now they’ll help small businesses build and grow their shops on Facebook and use our other commerce tools." According to Facebook.
From a lead generation perspective it is important that companies search engine optimise their Facebook Shops Pages and use tools like Facebook Messenger to push out notifications to engage with customers on sales and products.
Overall, this is exciting for early adopters and makes the online playing field more level for smaller retailers who can really leverage their brands online with more places to sell products and engage with customers. It also raises an issue for those companies that don't have big marketing budgets to spend on advertising. If you think of what Google has done with Adwords, it won't be long before Facebook shows its muscle forcing retailers to pay for customer acquisition.
My guess is that the first 1 million companies on Facebook will be the big winners and everyone else will need to pay for the privilege.