Facebook Shops and Commerce Manager… Everything retailers need to know

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After years of experimentation in the field, Facebook has decided to strike a big blow in the e-commerce sector, with the launch of “Facebook Shops”, accessible on the social network and Instagram. This announcement is set to have a big impact on the online sales ecosystem.

The progressive evolution of Facebook towards e-commerce

Facebook’s ambitions in e-commerce are nothing new. As early as 2014, the social network added a “Buy” button so that users could make purchases without having to leave its platform , and launched the “Dynamic Product Ads” advertising service a few months later, to enable e-merchants to carry out segmented and personalised advertising campaigns.

At the end of 2016, the platform took a new step towards e-commerce by launching its “Facebook Marketplace”, an exchange area where social network members can buy and sell goods between individuals. In 2018, Facebook opened up its marketplace to professionals by allowing dynamic ads.

On 19th May, the social network decided to go one step further by introducing “Facebook Shops”, a brand new marketplace dedicated to e-merchants, especially craftsmen and SMEs. Thanks to this new feature, any company can create an online shop on the platform, with a customizable interface on which you can display items from your product catalogue.

Reserved for 1 million companies during the initial beta phase, Facebook Shops will quickly be extended to all companies registered on the social network. This service seems to be an answer to Google’s Shopping Actions.

How do Facebook Shops work?

This new professional service is not just a copy or evolution of Marketplace; the Facebook Shops platform is a much more advanced feature, aiming to make the social network a major player in online commerce.

Providing e-merchants a lot of flexibility, Facebook Shops can be created on your existing Facebook or Instagram account. You can design the shop yourself, or work through a specialised partner. For companies operating in certain countries, an integrated payment allows you to manage everything from the platform.

At checkout, e-merchants can entice buyers to visit their online store, and customer service can be provided in real-time using the group’s own messaging tools. In the short term, buyers will be able to track the status of their order through various messaging tools: Messenger, Instagram Direct, or WhatsApp.

Other functionalities, currently under development, will also be added:

  • the possibility to view the entire catalogue from a chat window, and to buy products directly from a video presentation;
  • e-merchants will be able to promote their catalogue or flagship products with dynamic advertising and integrate a loyalty program;
  • recognition of the products of the brands included in the photos posted by users thanks to artificial intelligence, in order to initiate purchases on the timeline.

At this stage, the group does not charge companies when setting up their online shop. Only a commission (US figures: $0.4 for purchases below $8, 5% of the basket price above that) will be charged, and that’s only if buyers use the “Check out” function to make payment. There is no commission for payments made outside the platform. The service will be mainly financed by advertisements.

Registration on Commerce Manager

In order to benefit from Facebook Shops, you need to register as a merchant on Commerce Manager. This tool will allow you to launch and manage your online shop, as well as collect money from sales.

Several pieces of information must be provided at the time of registration:

  • an identification number corresponding to your legal name for compulsory declarations (tax number or employer number);
  • the name, Social Security number, and date of birth of a designated sales representative responsible for relations with Facebook;
  • the name of your company, its physical address, the e-mail address of your customer service, and bank details for transactions.

You must also specify the countries in which you operate, the product category that best represents your business, and the shipping and return options you offer your customers.

Once this information is provided, you can choose your sales channel (Facebook or Instagram) on the group, or a third-party marketplace partner and associate them with your existing business accounts. Finally, Facebook will perform a security check to ensure your professional identity.

The launch of this tool is still very recent, only a few brands are currently working on activating this new feature. Facebook hopes to work with many players in the coming weeks, particularly in the fashion, beauty and home sectors.

Image: Pexels

Naomi Botting

Communications Project Manager - UK/NORDICS