Facebook unveiled Facebook Shops, a new feature to help small businesses in the U.S. turn their social media profiles into digital storefronts. Businesses can set up a single online store for customers to access on Facebook's core social network and photo-sharing app Instagram, according to an announcement and details shared by CEO Mark Zuckerberg during a livestream Tuesday.
Shops will let businesses have online conversations with their customers via the WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram Direct messaging platforms. Facebook introduced privacy controls that won't identify which individuals visit a digital storefront, unless they give permission to do so. The company is currently testing Facebook Checkout to handle sales transactions, CNBC reported.
Shops also will let businesses tag products shown in Facebook and Instagram livestreams, letting customers see a product order page after tapping on those tags, Zuckerberg said during the livestreamed event. The company is working with e-commerce partners including Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, ChannelAdvisor, CedCommerce, Cafe24, Tienda Nube and Feedonomics to support small businesses with Facebook Shops.
Facebook's introduction of Shops expands on past efforts to bolster mobile commerce, while the coronavirus pandemic has added urgency to helping small businesses whose brick-and-mortar stores were ordered to close during lockdowns.
Facebook has previously said that its core ad business is seeing weaker demand due to the pandemic, but e-commerce is on the rise among quarantined consumers who can't go to physical stores to buy goods. Shops could help Facebook capitalize on this opportunity and accelerate adoption for the shoppable features it's been steadily building out over the past several years that look to give a stronger competitive edge against companies like Amazon.