Facebook has just announced their new Facebook Shops platform update in a bid to help small businesses around the world strengthen their online presence. They want to improve everyone’s shopping experience by making it as seamless as possible to discover and buy products online whether you are on Instagram or Facebook. Setting up a Facebook Shop combined with either social media management or website seo can give your business an edge over your competitors.
1. What is Facebook Shops?
Like most businesses there is probably a lot of fear when it comes to figuring out how to easily sell your products online. Facebook Shops could be the answer you’ve been looking for. Facebook has estimated that 2.89 billion people use Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram or Messenger each month and more than 2.26 billion people use at least one of the Facebook family of services every day on average.
Facebook Shops will be focussed on mobile phone users to enable a business to easily create an online store on Facebook and Instagram for free. You can select your chosen products to be featured and sold while also being able to provide customer service via WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct to answer questions or provide product support. They have even mentioned things like integrating loyalty programs which could be great for small businesses to keep their customers engaged for longer periods of time.
This is Facebook’s next move in developing their platform to keep users within their ecosystem for longer, this will ultimately fuel their advertising revenues and data generation activities. So it will help small businesses on one hand and create revenue opportunities for Facebook elsewhere. Facebook have announced they will be working with companies like Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce and others to provide support to small businesses, so hopefully that means a smooth integration with their platform. Although their press announcement comment was interesting which leads to the obvious question as to how and who will actually benefit
“These organisations 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.”
2. How can you use Facebook Shops for your small business?
The best part about this new platform is it just works within all the platforms people are already used to. People will be able to find your shop via your Facebook Page, your Instagram profile or simply by swiping up from Instagram Stories. Products will be displayed across both Facebook and Instagram to give customers a unified online shopping experience and best of all if your pages are connected with each other, any changes you make will update automatically on both platforms.
It means you instantly have access to a potential global audience via a platform that everyone already trusts and uses everyday with an interface that is quick, simple and consistent for all brands that are using it. In a sense it levels the playing field a little bit.
3. How can you get Facebook Shops for your small business?
Facebook are rolling out the new Facebook Shops to businesses who sell with Instagram Shopping and/or have a Facebook Page Shop. So for many small businesses you get switched over with a notification from Facebook. If you currently run your pages with maybe a Brand or Local Business set up you have to apply to have that changed as your first step. I have found that not many Facebook Page owners even know how their page is set up so you could be missing out on opportunities to market yourself correctly.
The typically process will be
1. Your Instagram Profile Shop and/or Facebook Page Shop will automatically convert to a shop. Before setting up your shop, you need to have received an email or notification that you can now use Facebook Shops.
2. You begin creating your collections to customise your via the Commerce Manager where you put all the details, descriptions, media and theme etc.
3. Once you are done the Shops platform will show your products to people on their mobile phone via the Facebook or Instagram App.
Ok, so I have over-simplified the steps because for each product you have to set it up individually etc, set up payment processing, organise your logistics and how you are going to promote your business etc. Plus to have your Shops working across Facebook and Instagram you have to have your Facebook Page Shop associated with your Instagram Profile so the two are linked. So there is a bit of homework to do but it isn’t like you are needing to code a website from scratch so the work is relatively straight forward in most cases.
4. Is Facebook Shops going to be good for your small business?
Every small business situation will be unique of course. Jumping onto Facebook Shops will be easy for brands that don’t have any online or eCommerce functionality as the barriers are quite small and the platform is very accessible. For those who are heavily invested in an existing platform like Shopify or WooCommerce for example, you would be wise to reach out to the Support Teams from those brands to try and get an early indication as to how they may (or if) integrate at all.
Hopefully it becomes a situation where existing platforms can integrate with Facebook Shops so that it creates opportunities to reach different audiences across normal search and within the social media ecosystems. Of course reaching the right audience and finding the people interested in buying your product will probably also require investment in advertising given the ever increasing amount of competition online.
If you have always thought about selling online but were afraid of the costs and complexity well, this could be a quick way to try it out while having complete control over everything you do. With millions of people using social media everyday it makes sense to at least attempt it but to also have the right expectations in mind that it won’t be a silver bullet, you have to compete just like you do with your shopfront or normal online store. If you have a highly engaged audience on Facebook or Instagram then you have an ideal platform to get started with, but if those people are either fake followers or not really engaged with your page then most likely you’ll be investing to reach the right people.
Like any small business marketing foray you have to consider the most basic elements;
Is your brand proposition clear and concise?
What are you selling?
How is it unique or different?
Does it solve a common Consumer pain point?
How do you stack up vs competition?
Is it easy for people to identify these traits?
How are you being found and discovered online today?
What is / or isn’t working?
5. Where can you get more information about Facebook Shops?
Here are the links to get more information about Facebook Shops