With a growing e-commerce Focus over recent years, Facebook shows no sign of stopping. In a live stream earlier this year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced some of the new e-commerce plans that are launching across the Facebook App family.
During the live stream, Mark Zuckerberg revealed that Facebook and Instagram Shops currently see over 300 million visitors per month. In addition to this, there are more than 1.2 million monthly active shops utilising Facebook e-commerce services. This is an impressive figure considering that they are still relatively new, with Facebook Shops only launching last year. Now that Facebook and Instagram have both proven success with Shops, it’s now time for them to move to the other app in the Facebook family, WhatsApp. Shops on WhatsApp will allow businesses to show their shops within the messenger app, providing yet another way for people to discover their products.
Zuckerberg said "We're bringing Shops to WhatsApp which will make it easier for people to find the products or brands that they want to engage with". Customers will not only be able to check out and purchase items directly from the app, due to the nature of WhatsApp, they will also be able to chat with the seller about the products as well.
Whilst WhatsApp is currently the most popular messaging app in the world, it has been notoriously difficult for businesses to monetise this platform, which is why WhatsApp shops could be a major change. People do not want to see ads whilst they are messaging their friends and family, which is why Shops could be a great alternative. The best news for businesses is that they will only need to set up their shop once. Their shop will then work across Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp.
Recent years have shown the increasing popularity of Facebook e-commerce services, like Marketplace. Mark Zuckerberg wants to expand this by bringing Shop listings to Marketplace.
Businesses that have already set up a Facebook Shop will not have to do anything else for their products to start being listing in Marketplace. This makes it easy for businesses to create a Facebook e-commerce presence. Whilst this is still being testing in order to discover the best way for products to be displayed in related searches. This is yet another way for businesses to get their products seen.
Zuckerberg also announced that Facebook will soon be offering new, personalised Shop Ads. Personalised ads use past shopping behaviour and preferences to provide personalised ads to users.
Instagram Visual Search
Visual Search will be similar to Pinterest's Lens feature. This allows users to scan an item in the real world or use an uploaded photo to discover similar items. Whilst this technology has been around a while, Facebook is hoping to take it to a whole new level. Instagram's scale will mean a lot more people will have the capability to shop in this way and it could potentially change the way we shop in the future.
Zuckerberg describes the new functionality here:
"A lot of shopping discovery begins with visual discovery, right, so you see something that you think is awesome. And then, you know, maybe you want to see other products that are like that, or you want to figure out how to get that product".
Whilst the dates of these new features have not been confirmed for the UK yet, all of these announcements are potentially exciting options in the future of e-commerce. Not only will these advancements make it easier for people to make purchases they are great opportunities for businesses.
The main focus of these updates is perhaps to show that all apps within the Facebook group are no longer purely social media channels. They provide new e-commerce avenues for businesses to explore and we will inevitably continue to see a growth in people purchasing directly through these apps.