Retail, Technology

Facebook rolls out new platform to help small businesses thrive online

Facebook on has re-enforced its commitment to supporting small businesses with the launch of its new feature called ‘Shops’.Facebook small businesses

The new feature is aimed at providing businesses struggling to survive the pandemic with free tools for creating online ‘Shops’ at the social network and Instagram.

“Facebook has always been about connecting you to what you love,” said the company in a statement. “That means friends and family, but also products, brands and businesses.”

According to the social networking firm, with many small businesses struggling, and with stores closing, more are looking to bring their business online.

“We want to give people a place to experience the joy of shopping versus the chore of buying. And we want to help small businesses adapt and make it easier for people to discover and shop for things they love,” the company said.

It also highlighted the launch of the new feature is part of its goals to “make shopping seamless and empower anyone from a small business owner to a global brand to use our apps to connect with customers.”

Facebook Shops make it easy for businesses to set up a single online store for customers to access on both Facebook and Instagram. Its free features allows businesses to choose the products they want to feature from their catalogue and then customise the look and feel of their shop with a cover image and accent colours that showcase their brand. This means any seller, no matter their size or budget, can bring their business online and connect with customers wherever and whenever it’s convenient for them.

People can find Facebook Shops on a business’ Facebook Page or Instagram profile, or discover them through stories or ads. From there, customers can browse the business’ the full collection, save products they’re interested in and place an order — either on the business’ website or without leaving the app if the business has enabled checkout in the US.

Facebook Shops will also enable customers send a message to the business through WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct to ask questions, get support, track deliveries and more. And in the future, you’ll be able to view a business’ shop and make purchases right within a chat in WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct.

“We’re also investing in features across our apps like Instagram Shop, live shopping and more that will be integrated with Facebook Shops to help customers discover products they’re interested in and make purchasing easier,” the company said.

According to Facebook, this summer starting in the US, they’re also introducing Instagram Shop, a new way to discover and buy products in Instagram Explore.

“You can get inspired by collections from @shop, browse selections from your favorite brands and creators, filter by categories like beauty and home, and purchase the looks you love all in one place. And later this year, we’re adding a new shop tab in the navigation bar, so you can get to Instagram Shop in just one tap.”

The company also noted that it is currently testing a new feature for both Facebook and Instagram that will allow sellers, brands and creators to tag products from their Facebook Shop or catalogue before going live and those products will be shown at the bottom of the video so people can easily tap to learn more and purchase. The features will be rolled out in the coming months.

It will also introduce a feature that will allow customers to earn rewards with businesses you love by enabling you to connect your loyalty programmes, like the points programme at your local cafe, to your Facebook account.

Facebook has also announced that it will work more closely with partners like Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Channel Advisor, CedCommerce, Cafe24, Tienda Nube and Feedonomics to give small businesses the support they need. “These organisations offer powerful tools to help entrepreneurs start and run their businesses and move online. Now they’ll help small businesses build and grow their Facebook Shops and use our other commerce tools.

“We hope these tools can relieve some of the pressure small businesses are facing right now and help businesses of all sizes prepare for the future,” Facebook said.

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