Every business needs to meet users where they are – and today that means on Facebook and Instagram. In the past, retailers could open up a physical retail storefront and rely on foot traffic.
As brick-and-mortar shopping is slowing down, however, surviving in today’s shifting economy now requires getting online fast. By meeting shoppers where they are – on digital and social platforms – brands can quickly and easily reach customers. They can also share their brand story and shorten the path to purchase to fuel their long-term success.
How Facebook helps businesses
Facebook is a champion for small business support. The platform has empowered entrepreneurs and small businesses to reach customers via social channels and paid ad products for businesses.
According to Facebook’s State of Small Business Report, over 160 million businesses use the company’s apps monthly. That’s nearly one business for every 55 people on the planet. These businesses are using Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, or WhatsApp to reach customers.
In response to COVID-19, Facebook is providing businesses with tools to lessen their financial burden and to increase their stability. This includes the ability to launch fundraisers, and the power to buy gift cards and process order food deliveries. A ‘business nearby’ feature helps customers find business services. Facebook users can search for pickup or delivery options, make bookings, or send a direct message online from a business Facebook page.
Introducing Facebook Shops
On May 19, Shopify announced a partnership with Facebook to bring Facebook Shops to Shopify merchants. The launch is expected to roll out over the summer, in the next few months.
Facebook Shops is a brand new shopping experience that helps brands create a customizable retail storefront directly on Facebook and Instagram. It offers a simple version of your online store that can be browsed in these social media mobile apps. This enables billions of shoppers to discover retail products. Shoppers can browse catalogs, and add to cart in the apps they are using to find new ideas and experiences.
Facebook Shops are free and easy to create. In just a few clicks, Shopify merchants can import inventory and create a shop across Facebook services. Companies can showcase their distinct brand and products by customizing the colors and layout of their Facebook Shop. They can also organize product collections into featured tiles to match the aesthetic of their Shopify store.
With Shopify’s integration, merchants can sync their products and inventory with their Shopify store. Doing so enables merchants to run their business in one place while selling on multiple sales channels.
This is arguably one the biggest steps Facebook has taken to enable commerce across their family of apps. Regardless of size, any Shopify merchant will be able to start a shop on their platform. Customers will be able to see their stories, feature products, or checkout directly from a Facebook or Instagram profile.
By enabling in-app purchases, Facebook Shops removes the need to navigate to a brand’s ecommerce site. This allows merchants to shorten the path to purchase.
Benefits of Shopify’s launch with Facebook Shops
“Shopify powers more than one million businesses that are transforming the direct-to-consumer landscape and changing the way we shop. With Facebook Shops, we’re bringing the tech industry together to help entrepreneurs succeed at a critical time.” Tobi Lütke, CEO of Shopify, said. “By pairing Shopify’s platform and commerce capabilities with Facebook’s reach and scale, we are reducing the barriers to entrepreneurship and advancing the future of commerce.”
Shopify is proudly one of the first commerce partners supporting this new, mobile-first shopping experience. Here are a few benefits merchants can expect from the Facebook Shops integration:
Shortening the path to purchase – Shopify store owners will shorten the path to purchase by allowing their customers to make orders directly within the apps they use.
- Customer privacy – Customers’ private information will be protected. The apps won’t share what customers buy with other users without permission.
- Seamless experience – Shopify merchants can offer consistent brand experiences across their online store and Facebook channels. They can control the colors and layout of their shop as well. They will also be able to organize product collections into featured tiles to match their brand aesthetic.
- New Direct to Consumer (DTC) channel – Facebook Shops adds a new way for Shopify businesses to sell directly to customers.
- Customization and merchandising control – Merchants will choose the look and feel of their Facebook and Instagram storefronts. They will be able to manage products, inventory, orders and fulfillment directly within the Shopify commerce platform.
- Checkout powered by Shopify – Checkout happens in a merchant’s store with Shopify payments. Shopify will also offer Instagram shop checkout to select merchants as they test out this new feature.
- Familiar user experience – Shoppers will be able to easily find, browse and buy products on the social apps they use everyday.
A multichannel shopping experience
Opportunity for merchants is expected to grow as Facebook Shops rolls out across Facebook’s full family of apps. This includes Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Whatsapp integrations. Merchants will be able to automatically connect their Shopify business online to these apps in one place. They will also be able to make custom experiences feel native to each individual app.
Shopify merchants will only have to set up shop once. This means delivering a consistent experience no matter where shoppers are accessing a business. Customers will be able to access a merchant’s catalog and buy products across their channels.
If a customer puts an item in their cart on Instagram, they will be able to checkout from Facebook too. Delivering one consistent experience across these apps will make it easier for customers to shop, thereby driving higher conversions.
A native shopping experience
Shopify merchants will be able to deliver a shopping experience that feels native to each platform, and on any device.
The Facebook integration will keep merchants’ products and inventory in sync with their Shopify store. This will help merchants run their business in one place. Syncing means Shopify store inventory will stay up to date. This is regardless of the channel through which a consumer makes a purchase.
When a customer clicks a product, it will take them to a product page that loads instantly. Here they will be able to check out. If they have accepted credit cards stored, then they will be able to choose those payment methods. By providing a better user experience, shoppers will be more likely to use a payment gateway to make a purchase.
How to get your business ready for Facebook Shops
Shopify merchants will be among the first to get access to Facebook Shops to offer new mobile experiences to their customers. To get ready for this launch, merchants can set up Shopify’s Facebook channel following these steps:
1. If you have access to product tags on the Instagram sales channel, you will automatically have access to Facebook Shops in the coming weeks. When you get access, you will know via a direct notification. You’ll be able to set your shop up on Instagram, but a version for Facebook is coming soon.
2. If you haven’t yet set up product tagging on Instagram, you will still have access to Facebook Shops in the coming months. To get ready, simply install Shopify’s new Facebook channel. This will power your sales and marketing activities across Facebook’s family of apps.
First, you’ll sync your products with Facebook’s channel. Then you’ll get access to Facebook Shops automatically when it becomes available to your account.
By following these instructions, merchants can connect with Facebook and customize their new Facebook Shops as soon as they become available. Facebook Shops will roll out to everyone in the next few months. Shopify merchants can get a head start to sync their existing products and customize their Facebook Shops. They just have to set up the Facebook channel for Shopify.
More Facebook features coming soon
Facebook Shops will provide Shopify merchants with exciting new features that will be available across the company’s family of apps. This includes product discovery, storytelling capabilities and personalization.
Here features that will help businesses face current challenges and prepare for the future:
Discovery features provide interesting experiences for shoppers to discover new products. It also gives businesses an improved ability to reach new customers:
Discovery shopping tab – Shoppers will be able to search, find and buy products in a shopping tab directly on a merchant’s Instagram shop.
Discovery story swipe up – If a shopper wants a product when viewing an Instagram story, they will be able to swipe up to the store’s checkout page. This will be an embedded feature that must be enabled by the merchant.
Discovery live shopping – There are now over 800 million daily active users across Facebook and Instagram Live. Examples include tutorials and product launches. This feature will make it possible to shop live, in real time.
Telling your story
The integration will provide tools that help Shopify merchants share their brand story with a new audience:
Tell your brand story – Not every shop is the same, and each store has their own story to tell. Businesses will be able to customize how their shops appear to create a more compelling experience for browsing shoppers. Businesses can choose a cover image and accent colors that showcase the look and feel of their brand.
Connect your loyalty programs – Merchants will be able to connect loyalty programs directly to their Facebook account. Shoppers will be able to see and keep track of points and rewards directly in the native apps they use.
Facebook Shops will use a large suite of tools to communicate effectively with customers. This will help merchants set up a full online shopping experience:
Built AI systems – AI systems will be able to identify and tag products in photos so merchants don’t have to. Retailers will be able to link from their main feeds without having to tag anything.
Personalization in shops – Personalization will provide a level of service that enhances the shopping experience. For example, Facebook Shops could recognize the shopper is only interested in men’s clothes from previous activity online. Then it may only show that user men’s clothing because that is what the user wants to see.
Augmented reality technology – This feature will give shoppers a preview of what products will look like on them, or at home. For example, a user can virtually try on makeup or sunglasses. Or, they may see how a new mirror would fit in their home. A shopper may feel more confident to make a purchase if the product is a good fit for their lifestyle.
All of these features will create a better shopping experience and should increase sales for retailers using Facebook Shops. This suite of tools will also help merchants build a stronger online presence. It will also help businesses stay open for business, even if their physical storefront can’t be.
Build your online presence with Facebook Shops
What merchants need now, especially with the economic fallout of COVID-19, is to reach new buyers. Facebook and Shopify are growing the direct to consumer (DTC) sector. They are enabling merchants to connect with consumers directly instead of relying on 3rd party distributors.
Facebook Shops will create a presence for buyers in the apps that they actively browse. As a result, over 1 million Shopify businesses will be able to shorten the path to purchase by enabling customers to check out in the apps they use everyday. With fewer clicks to check out, customers are less likely to become frustrated and abandon their cart. For store owners, this means happier customers, and more conversions.
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Written by Debra Weinryb, Content Strategist at Diff Agency
This article originally appeared in the Diff Agency blog and has been published here with permission.