You use it to connect with old friends, share funny memes, and, more professionally, advertise your business. Now Facebook’s offering a brand new tool for your brand that may be a secret weapon when it comes to increasing your ecommerce sales: Facebook Shops.
Announced in May 2020, the Facebook Shops feature provides a seamless online shopping experience for social media users. It’s one of the newest channels to enter the ecommerce shopping fray alongside giants like Amazon and Walmart, but it's already promising game-changing capabilities for brands in the future.
So what exactly is Facebook Shops and should you consider it for your business? Here’s what you should know.
What is Facebook Shops?
Facebook Shops is a mobile-first shopping experience that allows brands to create a free, customizable online store directly on Facebook (similar to a storefront on Amazon). Through Facebook Shops, brands can tell their brand story, feature their products on Facebook, and merchandise them in product collections that customers can browse like a virtual shelf before purchasing. Essentially it’s a new marketplace where consumers can buy products from within the Facebook platform, never leaving Facebook.
Facebook Shops are linked with Facebook business pages so consumers can see products right on a brand’s profile and, if they follow that brand, right in their feed. With Facebook Shops, brands can tag products in their posts and make those posts shoppable so that consumers go right into checkout just by clicking on them. Customers also have the option to checkout on brand websites through this function.
One of the most exciting things about Facebook Shops is that it links both Facebook and Instagram so brands have a single online store between the two apps, streamlining the shopping experience even further. Facebook says live shopping features and loyalty programs are in the pipeline for Facebook Shops, too.
Rather than going through a chat bot to reach your customer service team, shoppers on Facebook Shops interact with your brand just like they’d interact with an old friend from high school on the site. Customers message brands directly through Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram Direct to get support, track shipments, and ask questions, effectively cutting out the back-and-forth middle manning that can happen on sites like Amazon.
In addition to chatting with customer service representatives through messaging functions, Facebook says customers will have the option to make purchases right in chat boxes in the future.
What makes Facebook Shops an exciting option for brands?
It would be easy to overlook Facebook Shops as just one more channel to manage, but there are very good reasons to explore it as an option for your brand.
One of the most compelling elements of Facebook Shops that you can’t find on other platforms like Google or Amazon is how personable it makes the shopping experience. There’s a relationship that the individual has with your brand that’s just a little bit more intimate. They’re following you for a reason.
Through Facebook Shops, customers can have meaningful social interaction with your brand in the same space they purchase your product, which is invaluable for an ecommerce business. Coupled with the viral nature of Facebook posts, the feature is a goldmine waiting to be tapped.
If somebody’s really happy and they like your product and they share it, it goes to the people that are in their circle of influence, and then if those people life it and they share it, then it goes to their people in their circle of influence. Posts and ads organically take on a life of their own. That really doesn’t happen for other marketplaces.
Is it right for your brand?
While there are a lot of exciting opportunities with Facebook Shops, it won’t make sense for every business or every product. Brands that are going to do exceptionally well in the Facebook Shops space are brands that already have a strong social media presence.
A large following with high engagement will pay big dividends when customers have the option to buy your product directly on the app. Without that, the rewards will be hard-earned. If nobody’s following you and you’re starting from scratch, maybe it’s not right for you.
Another thing you’ll want to look at when considering Facebook Shops is the kind of content you’re sharing on social media. Are you producing video content? Are you producing useful content? Do you have someone that can create good social posts, and are you doing that already? If so, then this is something to consider.
Products that will do well or poorly
When it comes to products, everyday products that consumers can touch, feel, and use will do well on Facebook Shops, but big ticket items may not make sense. It’s hard to sell a boat on Facebook Shops, but you can sell tea. You can sell consumables. You can sell razors.
In addition to products, engagement, and content, it’s important to keep in mind that Facebook Shops is not yet a mature marketplace, and there will be bumps along the way. If you get started and you don’t have immediate success, that’s okay. You’re laying the foundation for future success and I personally believe that Facebook Shops will be a player in the marketplace space.
How to get started
Once you’ve evaluated whether or not Facebook Shops is right for your business as well as the logistics of things like shipping costs and packaging, you can jump right into setting up your Shop.
If you haven’t already, you’ll need to set up a Commerce Manager account through Facebook in order to proceed. You can learn more about that here.
Once your Commerce Manager account is live, you can set up a shop account by providing information about your business and you can upload your product catalogue. Facebook has provided a step-by-step tutorial on how to do this through Commerce Manager.
After you’ve created your shop, you can add collections of 6-30 products and customize its look and feel before publishing.
One handy thing about Facebook Shops is that a lot of tools have been integrated into it to help your brand get the support it needs to grow. Facebook has partnered with companies like Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Channel Advisor, CedCommerce, Cafe24, Tienda Nube, and Freedonomics.
It might be overwhelming to think about entering and managing the Facebook Shops space, but Pattern is here to help you make it work for your business. Pattern experts can give you the assistance you’ll need for growth and success as well as manage your Shop for you. For more tips and resources, contact us below.
Facebook Shops is a new addition to an increasingly busy marketplace, and there are still some unknowns, but the future of this feature is bright, and with the right tools and know-how, it can be a great choice for your ecommerce brand to thrive.
(Psst… Want to learn even more about selling on Facebook and utilizing it for ecommerce? Check out our articles about Facebook Live—Facebook’s livestreaming service—and how it helps increase sales, read more about multichannel selling, and best practices for using Facebook Ads.)