If you're not already aware, Facebook announced that they are launching a new platform called Facebook Shops earlier this month. It will allow you to set up an ecommerce store so that your customers can buy products from you, without leaving Facebook. In this blog, we talk about the pros, cons and how this could be a great solution for your business if you operate a traditional, retail model.

You probably have your own opinion on Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, but you can't question his dedication to responsing to a challenge and responding quickly. When the COVID19 pandemic took hold in March, the Facebook team were quick to jump on the opportunity to help small businesses to sell their products if people aren't able to physically visit their stores. They have very quickly built a platform and it's currently on trial in the USA only.  However, this is likely to be rolled out across the world very soon, so it seems sensible to let the Americans go first!

What types of business would benefit from a Facebook shop?

It's a platform Facebook has pulled together to allow a retail business to get to market quickly, without their own ecommerce store (online shop) set up. So, if you normally have a physical, retail shop, but you've had to close it, using Facebook Shops could mean you're able to sell your products to your target customers, very quickly. So, as a route to market, this is pretty good and kudos to Facebook for getting this out so quickly (to reinforce, this is in the US. But we will get it soon, the experts say).

The cynics amongst us will see that Mark Zuckerberg (and team) are keen to keep people on the Facebook platform for as long as possible, so this is perhaps not a truly altruistic measure. However, it is good to see that global giant Facebook is doing their bit to keep local economies going during a global crisis, so we are at least thankful for that.

Should you stop your ecommerce website and use Facebook Shops instead?

I think this would be a bad move - there is no reason why you couldn't have both. What if your customers actively dislike Facebook and don't use it? Plus, you have no control over the platform; so although the functionality will certainly help you to reach your customers, it's unlikely that you'll be able to build any customisations to this platform, as you might want to do if you had a traditional ecommerce platform.

What about Instagram?

Where Facebook goes, Instagram generally follows. Industry experts suggest that Instagram Shops will follow closely behind Facebook Shops, so watch this space. 

Anything else?

Facebook and Instagram want you to produce good quality content, and they love it when brands and individuals use their Live and Stories features. So, you'll be able to do a demo of your product or service via a live broadcast and your followers will be able to buy it from you in real time. In terms of user experience, we think that is pretty good.

To find out more about Facebook Shops, check out this page on the Facebook website