Facebook mounted a challenge to Amazon, Etsy 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.
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 today 19 May, with Messenger and WhatsApp to follow “soon”.
Facebook previously deployed in-app product catalogues for WhatsApp and shopping features on Instagram.
But Zuckerberg said when Facebook Shops is integrated across all its platforms, customers would be able to buy a product on one service and check-out from any of the others.
He predicted a bump in online retailing due to Covid-19 would outlast lockdowns, stating Facebook aimed to “help build some of the infrastructure businesses need, not only in this moment but going forward” as people “continue living more of our lives online and doing more business online too”.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back