Facebook Shops Impact on Small Businesses

Facebook has recently announced that it will soon be rolling out its Shopping feature which will allow businesses to sell directly to consumers right where it matters. The new addition to the Facebook family of apps will be available to its parent company whose name it carries and its second most successful venture, Instagram.

The long awaited in-app shopping addition couldn’t have come at a better time. With multiple businesses forced to close their physical doors due to covid-19, and strict lockdown measures put in place, being able to offer an online e-commerce platform that most of us already use, it’s bound to prove a success. Not only for the tech giant, who will most certainly benefit from its new feature by bringing immense amounts of business to its doorstep, but for customers who are at home looking to purchase the things they can no long buy on their high street walks, and most importantly for businesses who have to find a new way to connect with their customers.

The feature, which is currently being rolled out to eligible companies, will allow businesses to quickly create or import their existing product catalogues and offer users an online store front within both Facebook and Instagram, bringing online shopping straight to our social media scrolling feeds… and it seems this is not where it plans to end either. The social platform has been exploring other ways to facilitate e-commerce within its apps to enable a more human and personalised connection between businesses and consumers, and it seems it might eventually do so by bringing to life a Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram Direct integrated function.

But what exactly will Facebook Shops mean for businesses and consumers? And how will it affect the ‘old normal’ ways of purchase?

By shifting the online shopping traffic to our ever so inspirational feeds, Facebook and Instagram will very much become a one-stop shop (or should we say two-stop shop) platform, eliminating the need for separate website visits, apps shifting and extensive browsing when it comes to finding that new set of perfectly trendy tie dye joggers.

Essentially, consumers will be able to find inspiration, interact with friends, discover businesses and do their shopping (or at least some parts of it) all under one roof.

At a time where we may seem apart from others and the world in general, this new addition seems to bring it all together in some way.

On the other hand, Facebook is giving businesses a brand-new shopping space, without the fees attached to it, and best of all – with millions of online shoppers knocking on the door. Of course, this will mean that most companies will be shifting much of their direct to consumer online traffic, to Facebook, but if we think in the long-run and the amount of new consumers a business can potentially gain and hopefully retain through this new way of shopping, it seems likely to pay off.

Finally, once lockdown is over and our lives start to gradually go back to normal, will there be a need, and demand, for a physical store ever again? With so many thriving companies going online only over the past years, and the new speedy adaptation we’ve all had to undergo, it seems unlikely. However, we may well be in the need for some human interaction in a space outside our own homes by then – time will tell.

Rita Martins, Account Manager at Threepipe Reply