Facebook and Instagram Shops: Helping small businesses sell online

Author: Samantha Harris

According to a 2019 study by GlobalData, more than half of UK consumers are now using online shopping platforms to satisfy their retail therapy needs, with the sector predicted to grow by 30% over the next 4 years.

Yet, with the current lockdown situation, we wouldn’t be surprised if this growth has been dramatically fast-tracked, as limited options for reaching customers and driving revenue, has seen many businesses establishing an online presence in a short space of time. And after the recent announcement from Facebook about a new shopping feature, we’re almost certain this prediction will be surpassed.

 

Facebook and Instagram Shops

Last month the brand announced the introduction of Facebook Shops and Instagram Shop, two new eCommerce platforms which will allow brands to sell directly from Facebook or Instagram without customers having to leave the app.

According to the Facebook  blog, the inspiration behind these platforms stemmed from the current COVID-19 situation, in an effort to provide businesses with an alternative revenue stream.

“Right now many small businesses are struggling, and with stores closing, more are looking to bring their business online. Our goal is to make shopping seamless and empower anyone from a small business owner to a global brand to use our apps to connect with customers. That’s why we’re launching Facebook Shops and investing in features across our apps that inspire people to shop and make buying and selling online easier.”

 

What is Facebook Shops and how does it work?

Facebook Shops will function like an online store, allowing brands to feature products and services for sale – with categories of products, new releases and featured items.

Businesses will be able to create a catalogue of products to showcase to their customers, tailoring the look and feel of their shop with brand imagery and colours to bring out their personality.

The aim of the feature is to help all sellers, no matter their size or budget, to bring their business online and connect with customers at their own convenience.

Facebook Shops will be discoverable through a business’ Facebook Page or Instagram profile, or through stories or ads.

 

A real time shopping experience

It will always be hard to fully replicate the feeling of being physically in a shop –  having the option to easily engage with staff and ask questions and their opinions on sizes/styles/prices etc.

In an effort to match this, Facebook will be offering a questions function, whereby customers will be able to message a business through WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct to ask questions, get support, track deliveries and more. The idea is to ensure brands continue to connect on a personal level with their customers, building that feeling of rapport and trust.

 

What is Instagram Shop and how does it work?

Instagram Shop will initially be a part of the Instagram Discover Tab, before eventually becoming its own destination on the Instagram platform, with ‘storefronts’ from individual businesses.

Customers will be able to browse products, explore collections and purchase products from their favourite brands without leaving the app. Businesses will be able to curate their own collections, helping to enhance the shopping experience and showcase their brand story.

Users can visit a shop from a business’ Instagram profile or through the feed or Stories.

 

Live shopping

Live video has become a well-utilised part of the Facebook and Instagram platforms, with many brands and influencers talking to their followers in real-time. With this in mind, Facebook are starting to test a ‘live shopping’ feature, whereby sellers, brands and creators will be able to tag products from their Shop or catalogue before going live. Those products will then be shown at the bottom of the video so people can easily tap to learn more and purchase.

The feature is set to roll out more widely in the coming months.

 

Should I be using Shops?

The benefits of having an online presence, particularly at this time, are unprecedented. The ability to connect with customers no matter their location and continue driving sales through an easy to use, efficient and trustworthy platform are vital. As we have seen, those businesses who are able to adapt to the changing climate are the ones who continue to thrive. And the future seems to be online. So your business needs to be there.

Facebook will be rolling out a phased approach of shops to all businesses globally on Facebook and Instagram Shopping. They will start with eligible businesses who use Instagram profile shops and will expand access over the next few months. Eligible businesses will receive an email when their shop is ready to start customising.

If Shops sound like a viable option for your business, or you’re simply interested in understanding more about the feature or want advice around setting up an e-commerce platform, the Wagada team is here to help. Talk to us now.