Globally, Facebook has 2.6 billion monthly active users, while Instagram has 1 billion users. With this vast customer base, it is not surprising that E-Commerce is a massive success on both platforms. Further, amid COVID-19 induced movement restrictions, there has been a dramatic rise in online retail sales. By 2022, the global sales of the retail E-Commerce sector are slated to grow to 6.54 trillion.
Today, virtual shops on Facebook and Instagram draw over 300 million monthly visitors and have over 1.2 million monthly active users. However, competition is at its peak, and so is market saturation. Thus, despite the increasing number of social media users, small businesses are clambering to establish their presence.
To retailers’ respite, barely a year after launching these e-Shops, Mark Zuckerberg announced tools to provide an impetus to E-Commerce. Realizing the increased focus on E-Commerce, the Facebook CEO has gone beyond the shop concept to release a range of shopping and discovery tools.
Let’s deep dive into the tools and how they will transform the E-Commerce landscape.
In a significant move, Facebook has decided to extend the Shops format to its messaging app – WhatsApp. Various attempts have been made to mold it into a revenue generation platform as it is a widely used app. However, this has been challenging as people do not enjoy being bombarded with promotional content in a private messaging application. Even placement of advertisements in story form did not garner much interest.
Facebook’s Marketplace is a platform for users to list and identify products without any payment option. In contrast, Facebook Shops are meant for companies to sell their products with integrated payment options. Now Facebook is extending its marketplace platform to include not only products but also Shop listings. This option will facilitate a more organized shopping experience as well as better networking between buyers and sellers. Further, if an account on Facebook Shops is already in place, no additional efforts have to be made to list products on marketplaces.
Currently available in the US, this format is still undergoing trial. However, these experimental efforts are with the intent to encourage more browsing and buying activity. Naturally, with Shops comes promotions, and hence personalized Shop ads are also expected to be introduced. This introduction comes as a change to the ad-hoc advertisements by displaying items based on an individual’s registered interests and past behaviors.
Many users will be familiar with the Lens option in Pinterest and Google, which acts as a visual search tool to find products in a particular image. This AI (Artificial Intelligence) enabled tool is now integrated into Instagram’s shopping experience. By scanning or uploading a photo of an actual product, the user will find similar products. Facebook is currently being tested on the Instagram platform to transform casual shopping into habitual behavior.
While Facebook already has advertisements with product tags, it is running a pilot test on AR Dynamic Ads and AR try-on partnerships. These advertisements will appear in the news feed allowing users to experiment with the camera effect and engaging with the product. Further, clickable options will be available within the ad leading the user to a purchase option.
Mark Zuckerberg never wanted to create a company when he started this initiative. His goal was to make a mind-blowing change in the world. The Facebook CEO has been known to introduce continuous innovations. From a social networking website to an E-Commerce platform, his vision has been progressive. Tapping into consumer behavior and the existing huge customer base, he and his team have transformed and integrated social media platforms to benefit users globally. A combination of these new tools and options will no doubt strengthen the E-Commerce landscape. Here’s to small steps in Social Network creating the stairway to virtual and robust businesses.
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