Facebook Launches ‘Shops’ App to Help Small Businesses Adapt to the New Normal

In a bid to help small businesses cope with the effects of the ongoing pandemic caused by COVID-19, Facebook has launched a free app called Facebook Shops, which will allow small businesses to sell directly in all of its apps. This will be useful since most businesses have moved their operations online due to the extended lockdowns and community quarantines worldwide.  Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO of Facebook, announced the launch of Facebook Shops on his Facebook page. He also shared a Facebook Live video explaining the new app:

 

In his livestream, Zuckerberg said: “COVID-19 is not just a health emergency, its also the biggest economic shock we felt in our lifetime. As people are being told to stay home, small businesses are having a hard time staying open and millions of people are losing their jobs. This builds a deeper crisis for communities, for our ability to feed our families and for our mental health and well-being. The economic devastation may be even greater than the health impact of the virus. And we may be feeling this in the years to come.”

According to a survey that they did, 31% of small businesses have stopped operating. Many have moved their operations online, which Zuckerberg said will be the “future of commerce” and will determine whether a business is “staying afloat or going under”. He cited that most of Facebook’s advertisers or sources of revenue are small businesses. Thus, he wants to help the 160 million small businesses around the world that use their apps (Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram) through Facebook Shops, which will make it more convenient for small businesses to engage with their customers, market their products, and earn more in the process.

Facebook Shops will allow businesses to list their products or catalogs on their Facebook Page, Instagram, Stories or even in ads. In the future, Facebook Shops will also allow businesses to sell products to customers through the chat features of WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram Direct. They’ll also be able to tag products during Facebook and Instagram livestreams. Customers can click on the tags to be directed to the shop or order page.

Facebook currently allows sales on the platform through Marketplace, which was launched in 2016 and allows users to sell directly to each other. Facebook Shops will be its counterpart for small businesses. “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,” says Zuckerberg.

Mark Zuckerberg’s livestream on Facebook to launch Shops, a new app for small businesses

Below is Zuckerberg’s announcement post on his Facebook page:

I just announced that we’re launching Facebook Shops today – the basic idea is that any small business can easily start a shop to sell things directly across our apps. If you visit someone’s shop, you’ll be able to see that small business’s story, see their featured products, and buy them in our apps.

I think this particularly important right now because so many small businesses are moving online to deal with the economic fallout from Covid-19. As people are being told to stay home, physical storefronts are having a hard time staying open and millions of people are losing their jobs. I’ve been personally working with our teams on Facebook Shops every day for the last couple of months so we could accelerate launching it to small businesses who could use tools like this now.

Facebook Shops are free and easy to create. When you set up your shop, it will appear on your Facebook and Instagram accounts to start and soon on Messenger and WhatsApp too. Shops are native and fast, which means no more app-switching to a slow mobile web browser where you have to reenter your credit card when you tap on an interesting product you see in feeds. We’re also working with partners like Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Channel Advisor, CedCommerce, Cafe24, Tienda Nube and Feedonomics so that small businesses can easily integrate into a strong, open ecosystem of tools to help them manage their customer journey end-to-end, and it’s up to the business to decide what level of integration they want.

On top of that, we’re building a bunch of features across our apps to help people discover things from small businesses that they might want to buy. We’re building a dedicated shopping tab on Instagram and a destination inside Explore where you can find and buy products you might be interested in. Soon, we’ll also be launching new Live shopping features across Facebook and Instagram, which will allow you to shop on Live in real-time.

Lastly, in the near future Shops will use our AI and augmented reality tech to create better shopping experiences. We’ll automatically identify and tag products in feeds so people can easily click-through to purchase when they find things they like. Small businesses will also be able to personalize their storefronts to first show products that are most relevant to you and use augmented reality to let you virtually try on things like sunglasses, lipstick or makeup to see how they might look on you before buying, or what furniture might look like in your room.

This all adds up to something quite powerful. If you’re running a small business or you’re thinking of starting one – even from your living room – you now have a whole suite of tools available that can help you serve people. You can build out your online presence across Facebook and Instagram. You can use Messenger and WhatsApp to communicate with your customers. You can reach new customers through our ads. And now, you can also set up a full online store experience with Facebook Shops. All of these tools are open for business, even when your physical storefront can’t be. Hopefully this helps relieve some of the pressure that small businesses are facing right now and helps them prepare for a more online future. I look forward to getting Shops into the world more widely — let us know what you think!

What do you think of this new app? Share the news with your entrepreneur friends who might be interested to try it out.

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