Note: The Facebook Shops announcement is less than 24 hours old, I will be updating this article as I learn more.
This morning (May 19) Facebook released a new feature on their Facebook and Instagram platforms that they're calling Facebook Shops.
This is the biggest step we've taken yet to enable commerce across our family of apps.
- Mark Zuckerberg
Before you read this article, you should know that:
This part of the Facebook Shops update is going to be massively significant. This is how Facebook will re-position itself as a direct competitor with Amazon, transforming itself into one of the next major E-Commerce sales channels.
According to Mark Zuckerberg, the "activity" button in the main Instagram menu is going to be replaced with a new "shop" page.
Users will also be able to access Instagram Shop by swiping up on stories, as seen in the screenshot below.
This isn't just a new way for customers to buy your products - this is a new way for Instagram's 500 Million+ Daily Users to stumble upon your brand for the first time. A year from today, Instagram Shop Optimization (or whatever we end up calling it) will be one of the key elements of your marketing strategy (in select industries), right alongside Search Engine Optimization and Influencer Marketing.
Customers will be able to add an item to their shopping cart on Facebook Shops, add a few more on Instagram, and then checkout in Messenger, without any loss of contents while switching apps.
At first glance, this feels gimmicky. Upon further thought, it's absolutely brilliant.
This is more than just a simple feature to make checkout slightly easier. This is the future marketing automation. There are thousands of potential use cases here (imagine sending your best customers discount codes when their purchasing behavior starts to drop off, for example), and I predict that more will become apparent as we learn more about this feature's limitations. These features will be the Klayvio, Marketo, Mailchimp, and Drip of the Facebook ecosystem.
In the video above, Zuckerberg announces that Facebook Shops will increase conversion rates when advertising on their platform. From the limited information that we have now, this claim checks out. I see the increased conversion rates coming from four sources.
Once a user purchases from Facebook Store A, their payment information will be stored and can be used in Facebook Stores B, C, and D. This will lead to reduced friction at checkout, which is a core principle of conversion rate optimization.
Currently, if an E-Commerce business wants to sell a product on Facebook, they have to share a link to their website. This means that after tapping on the link, a user must wait for the merchant's website to load prior to making a transaction. As all online retailers know, load time is a conversion rate killer.
By keeping the transaction within its platforms, Facebook Shops will be able to pre-load the next page in the checkout process to provide a more seamless customer experience.
Not much information is available on this yet, but it looks like businesses will be able to customize their own reward systems within their Facebook stores.
Upon the release of Facebook Shops, customers that already follow you on Instagram will be able to view the products featured in your Instagram stories and purchase on the spot.
Facebook Shops merchants will now be able to promote products during live streams.
I see a lot of implications for cosmetic brands with this feature. These brands frequently use makeup tutorials in their content marketing strategies, and they'll be able to hold these tutorials live and sell the products that they're using while streaming.
One of the biggest barriers to online purchases is the customer's inability to visualize the object that they're purchasing. You don't know how your new clothes are going to fit you, how your furniture is going to fit in your room, or (as in Facebook's example this morning) how a shade of lipstick will look on you.
Facebook aims to solve this problem by using Augmented reality to allow the customer to picture how the product will look in its real-life context. Your phone's cameras will read the environment around you, and Facebook's "AI" will render a picture of your product in that environment.
Facebook Shops will integrate natively with the following platforms:
- Big Cartel
- Demandware (Salesforce Commerce Cloud)
- Oracle Commerce Cloud
As of May 19, Facebook Shops is accepting applications for this feature and not providing any guarantees on response time. You can apply here.
As this is an early stage program, we cannot provide an expectation on how long it will take to review the applications. However if you aren’t currently working with one of our existing platform partners or match the current criteria that we are looking for at this time, we will use the provided email address to let you know when we’re ready for your application.