Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook, recently announced the launch of Facebook Shops. This is an innovative e-commerce platform on the Facebook app that allows users to sell their own products and services. The news comes amid the global COVIS-19 pandemic where millions of businesses have been forced to shut their doors.
“The basic idea is that any small business can easily start a shop to sell things directly across our apps. If you visit someone’s shop, you’ll be able to see that small business’s story, see their featured products, and buy them in our apps,” explains Zuckerberg. Facebook Shops will enable businesses to move their offerings online without having to set up their own websites with e-commerce capabilities.
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Facebook Shops will help small business owners
Physical storefronts are left locked up and empty during the COVID-19 pandemic. Millions of small businesses around the world have been crippled by the virus, leading to unemployment scales unlike we have ever seen before. “I’ve been personally working with our teams on Facebook Shops every day for the last couple of months so we could accelerate launching it to small businesses who could use tools like this now,” says Zuckerberg.
Facebook Shops is free to use and fairly easy to set-up. It links with your company’s Facebook and Instagram accounts and automatically comes with the option to link directly to a WhatsApp number. “Shops are native and fast, which means no more app-switching to a slow mobile web browser,” he explains.
The development of Facebook Shops means that small businesses can now be more visible online. Being linked to Facebook-owned platforms such as Instagram, businesses will appear in search results and allow potential customers to find them more easily from their own social media accounts.
“We’re building a dedicated shopping tab on Instagram and a destination inside Explore where you can find and buy products you might be interested in. Soon, we’ll also be launching new Live shopping features across Facebook and Instagram, which will allow you to shop on Live in real-time,” states Zuckerberg.
Facebook Shops will use artificial intelligence
Zuckerberg also alluded to the idea that the platform will use Facebook’s artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality technology to improve online shopping experiences for users. “We’ll automatically identify and tag products in feeds so people can easily click-through to purchase when they find things they like,” he says.
The online storefronts can be personalised and the most relevant products on sale will be displayed to users first. Facebook will also use augmented reality to allow users to virtually browse products and ‘try on’ clothing and accessories before making a purchase. This augmented reality can also enable people to see what furniture will look like in their rooms, using their smartphone cameras and a three-dimensional graphic display of the product.
All-in-all, this new feature can be a powerful tool for businesses, whether they have their own websites or not. “You can build out your online presence across Facebook and Instagram. You can use Messenger and WhatsApp to communicate with your customers. You can reach new customers through our ads. And now, you can also set up a full online store experience with Facebook Shops,” concludes Zuckerberg.
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