It is no secret that the future of shopping lies in online retail. In its effort to conquer it, Facebook has announced a new feature called Facebook Shops.
The 2020 coronavirus pandemic has served only to only speed up the process.
If you want to make the most of this huge opportunity, you have to follow the online shopping trends.
Shops will serve to provide an integrated shopping experience directly through Facebook and Instagram.
It doesn’t matter if you already own a successful eCommerce brand or if you’re just starting out.
You have to make the most of this hot new trend called social selling and reap the rewards that await the pioneers!
What are Facebook Shops and why should you care? 🤔
Facebook wants to make a dent in the eCommerce space and take a bite of online retail.
It has come at precisely the right time.
During the coronavirus pandemic that has engulfed the world and closed down 31% of small businesses in the US.
Those businesses that didn’t fail have managed to adjust to the times and have started to sell online.
In an effort to help precisely those small and family-owned companies that still struggle with transporting their business online, Facebook has launched a feature that will allow any business with a Facebook or Instagram profile to sell their products directly to the customer on the platform.
For many small businesses, the ability to establish their presence online will make the difference between going under or staying afloat.
Introducing Facebook Shops 🛒
Facebook has partnered up with Shopify and has created an integrated shopping experience for 2.4 billion of its active users.
By creating a single store that is accessible both from Facebook and Instagram, Mark Zuckerberg aims to take a bite of the ever-growing eCommerce pie.
Facebook Shops or Shops for short, aims to cut down on the buyer friction by allowing users to buy directly from the Facebook and Instagram platform.
There are future plans however to expand to selling products through Instagram Direct, WhatsApp, and Messenger as well as during live broadcasts!
Currently, they are only available to selected brands in the US and only on Facebook, but during the coming months, they will be accessible to everyone.
Instagram Shops are scheduled for the summer of 2020, and will provide the same shopping experience.
What does Facebook Shops mean to eCommerce entrepreneurs?
If you’re a small business that is struggling in this time of strife, now is the excellent time to move your business online.
You don’t even have to code or have any experience in design since Shops will provide a very simple interface through which you can market and sell your products online.
They are easy to set up and your products will be very easy to market and sell using the simple interface directly, through the Facebook family of apps.
Beginner eCommerce entrepreneurs should aim to take advantage of this new opportunity.
That way you will become among the first to utilize the advantages of having access to over 2 billion Facebook users.
It’s much easier to master one platform and one vertical such as Facebook than spread yourself too thin.
The future is still uncertain, so if you already own a Shopify store you should treat Shops as another storefront directly inside Facebook.
Also, put your focus into mastering Facebook ads which will surely become helpful once the feature becomes widespread.
For those that already own a successful brand, you should take the time to accept this new feature.
That way you will position yourself in front of your competitors who may be lagging behind.
While Shops will surely provide you with an additional source of traffic and thus revenue, it’s not without its disadvantages.
The important thing is to test and find the most profitable vertical, while also growing your core business.
How to activate Shops on Facebook 🤓
Keep in mind, Facebook Shops are not Page shops.
Page shops is a previous Facebook feature that allows Page owners to showcase their products and send them to the landing page or their website, so you shouldn’t confuse the two.
You have to be an owner of a business Page if you want to have the Shops feature available!
Currently, only selected businesses from the US have the Facebook Shops available, but that will soon change.
If you want to jump the queue, follow these steps.
- At the top of the Facebook home page, click Create tab and select Page
- Include a name for your Page, make sure that it’s the same name as your business
- Add a category for your business
- Include the rest of your business’ information, such as an address, phone number, etc.
- Include a profile photo for your business Page
- Also, make sure to upload a cover photo as well
Finally, you can customize the look of your page by selecting from different Templates for a specific business
2. If your business has an Instagram profile, make sure to connect it with your Facebook Page
- Open your Facebook Page.
- Select the Settings tab from the top menu.
- Select Instagram.
- To add an Instagram account to your Page, select Connect account. Enter your Instagram account’s Username and Password, and select Log in.
! You can only connect a business account, so if you do not have one, you will be prompted to convert your personal account. !
- While on desktop, select the Shop tab on your Facebook Page. If you don’t see this tab, change your Page template to the shopping template.
- Follow the on-screen instructions to add a shop to your Facebook Page. Make sure to fill in all the required fields
- While on desktop, click the Shop tab on your Page.
- Click Add collection.
- From Publishing tools, click +Add collection.
- Select a name for your collection and choose if you want it to be featured first in your shop
- Click Save when you’ve finished. To add products to the collection, click + Add products.
Once you receive the email that your business is eligible for Shops, it’s time to rock and roll!
Step by step process on how to make the most of Facebook Shops for beginners
1. Your Instagram profile and Facebook Page shop will automatically be converted to a Shop – improve all your social media profiles
Facebook aims to create customization features that will be unified across the whole spectrum of their apps.
Meaning, your Shop will be visible on both Instagram and Facebook if you have a Facebook Page shop associated with your Instagram profile.
You will only have to set it up once, and it will be shared across both platforms.
2. Create collections to customize your shops and make it attractive.
Go to Commerce Manager on your page where you will create and customize your collections that will have between 6-30 products. Each collection should aim to showcase one family of products.
Include a name, description as well as a cover media to attract your customers.
If you have plenty of products, organize them into a collection with a variety of themes that will make them easy to find.
3. Shops offer mobile-first shopping experience, so adjust the look of your collections accordingly
Here are some basic tips:
– The collection name should be up to 20 characters long, you can even use emojis!
– While optional, make sure to include a description (up to 200 characters) for each of your collections. Include informative, yet actionable words
– For the cover image, make sure to have a ratio of 4:3 with minimal pixel quality of 800 x 600. These are just Facebook recommendations, also you can use a variety of image formats.
If you already own a Shopify store you’re in luck.
Facebook has partnered up with Shopify to provide store owners with seamless integration with both of their platforms.
This is what Shopify had to say:
“Facebook Shops allows Shopify merchants to get control over customization and merchandising for their storefronts inside Facebook and Instagram while managing their products, inventory, orders, and fulfillment directly from within Shopify.”
Meaning, Shops will become another free storefront for your brand, while managing orders will be done directly within Shopify!
If you don’t own a store on the Shopify platform do not despair,
Facebook has said that it’s partnering also with BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Channel Advisor, CedCommerce, Cafe24, Tienda Nube, and Feedonomics.
Future updates 🔮
It seems that Facebook has truly decided to grab the bull by the horns and has promised future updates that will surely change the eCommerce landscape and usher in a new era called social selling.
1. AI integration
There have been whispers that Facebook will use its advanced AI technology to personalize the Shops storefront to each visitor.
For example, if you have a clothing and apparel store that caters to both sexes, the featured collections will show either jackets for men or dresses for women.
2. Augmented Reality
Facebook wants to go a step further and allow users to try out products before they buy them! The new feature will be a lot similar to Instagram’s AR shopping feature.
Some products, especially clothing and apparel can hardly be described only by photos and videos.
By using AR you can more easily attract potential customers.
3. Making purchases directly within a chat in WhatsApp, Messenger, or Instagram Direct
Once that becomes possible, the value of creating a chatbot that will serve as a 24/7 free sales agent will become priceless.
Imagine having the entire customer’s journey automated through a bot that will answer questions, showcase product features, and provide information about tracking and delivery!
4. Loyalty programs
An additional feature that will help small businesses create loyalty programs and integrate them with Facebook Shops.
5. Instagram Shop
Instagram will soon have an Instagram Shop feature which will exist as a permanent button on the navigation bar.
That way it will make shopping even easier.
Also, products will be visible directly from Instagram Explore and according to a press release it will be possible to “browse selections from your favorite brands and creators, filter by categories like beauty and home, and purchase the looks you love all in one place.”
6. Live Shopping – on both Facebook and Instagram
Live video is excellent for creating engagement with your audience and will become an excellent jumping point for product launches.
Businesses will be able to “tag products from their Facebook Shop or catalog before going live and those products will be shown at the bottom of the video so people can easily tap to learn more and purchase.”
The possibilities are endless.
Influencers can include the products in their daily vlog, thus using “soft selling”. Also, businesses can offer tutorials and product launches while allowing their customers to buy their products directly during the stream!
How to make the most of Facebook Shops and earn heaps of money in the process 💸💸💸
So far we only covered the technicalities of Shops, but the question that you need to ask is:
“How can I use them to position myself better on the marketplace and beat my competition?”
These are precisely the questions that we will cover, so read on and take notes!
1. eCommerce is moving towards social selling 💡
You don’t have to have a crystal ball to predict the future. The answer to the future of eCommerce and online retail lies across the globe, in China.
In many ways, the Chinese market is years ahead of its western counterpart.
So, how exactly does the future look like there? 🇨🇳
Social media reigns supreme.
In the western world the eyeballs of potential customers are divided across platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and Pinterest.
The Chinese market on the other hand is dominated by local apps that encompass almost every aspect of online social interaction and even have additional features that are mostly geared towards social commerce.
It’s predicted that the value of social commerce in China will double from 1.3 trillion yuan (US$185 billion) in 2019 to 2.86 trillion yuan in 2021.
Major Chinese eCommerce platforms such as Pinduoduo, Xiaohongshu, and video streaming app iQiyi are the biggest players in the market there.
Pinduoduo is an eCommerce platform combining social interactions and elements of social selling.
The main feature is that it allows customers to form a group in order to buy products at a discounted price.
Xiaohongshu is catered to mostly millennial women and focuses on beauty and fashion. It’s basically the Chinese Instagram.
The website allows its users to post photos and videos of themselves showcasing everything related to fashion.
Also, potential customers can comment and exchange their advice and recommendations.
It’s more than probable that the majority, if not all of these features, could be implemented by platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest and modeled to better suit Western audiences.
The fact is, people are more likely to buy something if it’s recommended by a familiar face. It doesn’t matter if it’s a social media influencer or even more from a family or friend.
2. User-generated content outperforms bland, stock media any time of the day
Do you want to be left on the sidelines while others, more agile and adaptable sellers reap the benefits of new trends?
If the answer is no, you have to adopt user-generated content in your social media outreach.
User-generated content or UGC has risen in importance especially when it comes to fashion and apparel images.
To put it simply, showcasing real people wearing the product that you want to sell in a real-life setting outperforms stock photos of models doing the same. 💃
One of the best indicators of interest would be the click-through-rate or CTR when it comes to ads. Let’s look at the numbers and you be the judge.
Take this colored Zara skirt
And let us compare the numbers
The image of a real person wearing the dress in a real-life situation outperforms brand image more than 2 times, 2.6 to be exact.
Let’s compare the success of a campaign that will send people from Facebook to a landing page designed to look like an eCommerce site.
The classic A/B testing works best here.
Half of the people will be shown the product with a single stock image, while the other half will see the same stock photo together with three user-generated images.
Here are the landing pages.
And let us look at results
By including photos of real people wearing the same product, the campaign has generated almost 4 times as much CTR!! 🔥
It doesn’t take a genius to add two and two together.
When it comes to fashion and accessories one of the most important questions on people’s minds is how will that fit me? 🤔
If the same products are worn by professional models in a bland setting with white background, potential customers are wary that those products wouldn’t look as good when worn in real-life scenarios.
On the other hand, when real people showcase the same product in a natural setting customers can easily imagine themselves in that same scenario so they are more inclined to buy it!
Which brings us to the next point
3. Encourage your users to post photos of your products – the value of micro-influencers will grow even more
People buy things from those they know, like and trust.
With the meteoric rise in popularity of platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest, the word influencer has made its way into the English dictionary.
The significance of influencers will grow even more, here are some key takeaways.
The influencer marketing industry is on track to be worth up to $15 billion by 2022, up from as much as $8 billion in 2019, according to Business Insider Intelligence estimates.
Every social platform caters towards influencers in some way, with Instagram leading the way with (79%) brands focusing their marketing efforts for influencer campaigns, while with Facebook that number falls to 46%, YouTube 36%, Twitter 24%, and LinkedIn 12%.
It’s obvious that Shops are moving heavily towards extracting the value of influencer marketing with its eCommerce integration with Facebook and Instagram (scheduled for the summer of 2020).
And when promised features such as selling via live video streaming become available, you can be sure that big brands will jump right at that opportunity.
But that doesn’t mean that the influencer market is reserved only for those who can pay the big bucks to attract big names.
Quite the contrary.
In all eventuality, those eCommerce brands that will entice users to post high-quality images of themselves showcasing their products will save thousands of dollars in marketing while creating 20 times as much perceived value for their brand.
Almost everyone with a follow count can be likened to a micro-influencer so do not let this opportunity go to waste.
4. Selling via live streaming will grow in importance
Like mentioned before, selling via live streaming is the norm in the Chinese markets and its value is in billions, so the mere fact that Facebook is moving towards adding the same feature speaks multitudes.
In today’s world people want to be more connected than ever with those they follow on social media.
It’s no wonder that those products that are launched via live streaming are incredibly more successful when it comes to sales compared to those that aren’t.
Are you just starting your own eCommerce business from nothing, or do you already owning a small business that’s selling online?
If so, now is the perfect time to transform yourself into an influencer. ❗
Here is how you will guarantee yourself huge success with only a modest number of followers.
1. Create a Live Video Show
The first step is to gain as many fans as possible so be consistent. Create live streams at the same time every week and during the show provide value with your audience by sharing your expertise.
Once your audience recognizes you as authority in your space, selling will become effortless.
2. Broadcast Life Streams
It’s no wonder that lifestreams taken by phone and with seemingly amateur quality generate the most engagement. Your audience wants to see you as their friend.
By giving your audience and insight into your life they will start to feel like they know you and deeper relationships will be formed.
That way you can more easily grow your community and increase your conversion rates.
Facebook live and Instagram live will grow even more in importance, so do not forget to grow and maintain the relationship with your audience.
3. Show a sneak peek inside your business
If you’re a small business going online, now is the perfect time to differentiate yourself from your competition by showing your audience a look inside your existing business.
- What are you selling?
- What kind of effort goes into making the products?
- How is it packaged and sent?
These are the things your customers would want to know.
By being open and informative about yourself and your business, you’re perceived more as a friend or a consultant than a marketer who just wants to make money.
The advent of Facebook Shops has marked a sharp turn to social selling in the eCommerce space.
While it’s still not the primary source of revenue for most brands, if we are to extrapolate the current trends we shall come to the conclusion that it’s only a matter of time until the world of eCommerce is dominated by those who adapt to social selling trends.