Facebook just announced a major move into online shopping. The company launched “Shops”, a new virtual shopping mall where businesses can set up free storefronts on the social network and Instagram.
Businesses will now be able to feature products and services in their shops, run advertisements, and communicate with customers through Facebook messaging services. In further updates, it is expected that shops will be integrated across Facebook different apps such as WhatsApp and Messenger.
For this first version of the virtual mall, the shoppers are able to buy products either through the business’s own website or through Instagram checkout feature. So far, the checkout isn’t available on Facebook, it’s expected to be released soon.
Mark Zuckerberg explained that the Coronavirus pandemic ramped up Facebook’s efforts to integrate commerce as part of their business and allow users to have a new source of revenue. He added that during the Covid-19 crisis there has been a lot of small business going online for the first time, this is what will make the difference between staying afloat or going under.
Zuckerberg also explained that Facebook will not charge businesses to create their virtual storefronts. “We know that if Shops are valuable for businesses they’re going to in general want to bid more for ads. We’ll eventually make money that way.”