Facebook has announced that it's launching Facebook Shops, a new platform for small businesses to bring their products online and sell them to the community on Facebook and Instagram. Using Facebook Shops is free, and it lets businesses choose the catalog of products they want to showcase on Facebook and customize the look for their shop with different accent colors and cover images.
Shops on Facebook will be accessible through the business's Facebook page or through its Instagram page. The feature also lets customers connect with the business to ask questions via Messenger, WhatsApp, or Instagram Direct. In the future, it will also be possible to browse a shop's catalog and make purchases directly within the messaging apps.
This feature is rolling out gradually starting today, but Facebook is expanding its shopping capabilities in other ways, too. This summer, it will launch Instagram Shop, a way for users to find and buy products they may find in the Explore tab, plus any products they may be interested in from specific brands, complete with the ability to filter by product category. The Instagram Shop will get its own tab in the Instagram app later in the year.
To go along with these features, it will also soon be possible for Facebook and Instagram pages to link to specific products they show off in live streams. Pages will be able to tag the products - such as those they're selling in their Facebook Shop - in the video before going live, and they will be pinned at the bottom of the live stream so viewers can easily buy them. This feature is currently being tested with select businesses and will roll out more broadly later on.
Finally, though this comes without a release date, Facebook says it's working on ways to link reward programs to a Facebook account, so users can manage and use it in Facebook Shops. Since there's no indication of availability for this, it may still be a ways off, but it should be useful for businesses and customers alike. These initiatives are another step towards helping small businesses, after Facebook launched Instagram stickers that made it easier to buy certain items from Instagram Stories.