Facebook Strives for More Online Retail Power

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Facebook Strives for More Online Retail Power

By Thad Rueter - 08/25/2020
Facebook Strives for More Online Retail Power
Facebook's latest move is the most recent example of the rise of social commerce during the pandemic.

The pandemic e-commerce spike has led Facebook to launch an offering designed to help the social media platform gain more of that online revenue stream.

Facebook Shop, which officially debuted Tuesday, Aug. 25, serves as a place for consumers to discover businesses and shop for products within the broader Facebook app. According to the Menlo Park, California-based company, Facebook Shop makes it easy for people to find products from businesses they love, discover new ones and make purchases, all in one place. In conjunction with this launch, Facebook said that it's also expanding retail checkout tools to Instagram to further promote the use of e-commerce within the larger Facebook ecosystem.

Facebook has tried for years to gain more e-commerce traction, and at this point in the pandemic, the time appears to be ripe for another push toward that goal. As Facebook put it, the pandemic has essentially added jet fuel to the shift to online shopping, an opportunity for the social media platform to gain at least a smidgeon of e-commerce ground on Big Tech peers such as Google and Amazon.

Facebook said that it's waiving selling fees for businesses through the end of the year to reduce the cost of doing business online, especially given the current economic crisis. 

More specifically, Facebook said that its new offerings enable messaging that combines the in-store experience of being able to ask a salesperson questions with the convenience of online shopping. Messaging allows businesses to provide personalized assistance so that people can make more informed decisions about their purchases. The new messaging button makes it easy for people to message businesses through Messenger, WhatsApp or Instagram Direct. Customers can view products right within the chat, making it easy to share products with friends and family to get feedback before making a purchase. 

Facebook added that its Live Shopping feature is making it easier for people to shop in real time. The company has been testing this feature on both Facebook and Instagram, and now Facebook Live Shopping includes new features to help businesses easily set up a live experience featuring products from their Shop and sell directly from the video. Instagram Live Shopping is now available to all businesses and creators using checkout in the United States.

Indeed, so-called live-streaming commerce is one of the hotter, if younger, trends in online shopping in the United States, with Amazon and other retail players experimenting with the format.